Vice President Kamala Harris has finally agreed to make a trip to the uncontrolled U.S.-Mexico border after months of pressure from members of Congress, but her sector of choice is drawing bipartisan scrutiny and criticism.
After Harris, whom President Joe Biden tasked in late March with resolving the migrant crisis that built into a crescendo after they took office Jan. 20, announced a border visit earlier this week, the administration noted on Wednesday that she will travel to the El Paso Sector on Friday.
But that sector isn’t particularly chaotic and, in fact, not at all representative of other sectors in Texas and Arizona, which are daily inundated with thousands of migrants crossing illegally into the U.S., stretching federal, state, and local authorities well beyond their capabilities and limits.
In an interview Thursday with Fox News hosts Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who has been badgering the VP to make a visit to the border to see the situation for herself, called her El Paso trip a “politically safe” visit that will allow her to “check the box” and say she’s made the trip days before former President Donald Trump is expected to meet GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and travel to the border as well.
(Credit: Fox News)
“I’m glad that she’s going down to the border ’cause that is part of her job portfolio,” Cuellar, who penned an op-ed with other Texas lawmakers including GOP Sen. John Cornyn in the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday again appealing to Harris to make a visit.
“The epicenter is down there in the lower Rio Grande…in part of my district,” he continued. “If you look at the numbers that are down there compared to El Paso, you’re not gonna get a true picture of what’s happening.”
He went on to suggest other regions of the border including cities like Donna and McAllen where Harris would get a much more accurate accounting of the scope of the crisis.
But later in the interview, Cuellar went on to suggest that’s not really the point of her visit.
“I have no idea” why she chose El Paso, he said, adding that he was “sure her planners told her that if you’re gonna go down to the border, go to a region that “is politically safer.”
“If you go down to the lower Rio Grande with the high activity and you’re there with kids and families, prosecutorial discretion where people are being released, high numbers of people crossing the border, politically it’s harder to do that,” the Texas Democrat, whose district includes some of the highest trafficking of illegal immigrants, continued.
“You can’t just go to one place, but she does do the ‘check the box’ and go down to the border,” he added.
Sen. Marco Rubio, in an earlier interview with Fox News, made a similar observation about Harris’s choice of El Paso.
(Credit: Fox News)
“I don’t know why they chose El Paso. It’s not the epicenter of the crisis. It’s more closer to McAllen and areas of that nature,” the Florida Republican and vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said.
“But I will say that, irrespective, I think what they’re going to see is what they created,” he continued, going on to suggest that the current crisis is practically all due to Biden-Harris reversals of Trump border enforcement policies.
“Now, that migratory pressure has always been there, and I don’t care what anybody tells you, I don’t care what rhetoric you hear, I know people who have relatives in Central America and the message they got in November of last year and in January when Joe Biden was sworn in was, there’s a new administration, they’re going to do everything on immigration the opposite of Trump, there will be no wall,” said Rubio.
“Some of the first actions they took were on immigration in terms of deferring the deportation of people who may have been in jail, also, the new asylum processes, getting rid of stay in Mexico policies. All of this sends a message and that is, things have changed, it’s going to be easier to get in and the trafficking networks took advantage of it,” he added.
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