On Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris (Kamala Harris) visited the US-Mexico border for the first time since taking office, calling for an end to political “speech” and “pointing” on immigration issues. Republicans have been eager to weaponize this issue. Come to deal with her.
Immigration “cannot be reduced to a political issue,” Harris told reporters. “We are talking about children, we are talking about family, we are talking about suffering. Our methods must be thoughtful and effective.”
Under pressure to prevent a surge in the number of immigrants from Central America, U.S. President Joe Biden appointed Harris in March to lead his government’s efforts to deal with immigration challenges on the border with Mexico.
Harris’ visit came after months of criticism of her absence and President Biden’s absence by Republicans and some in her own party, when immigration officials had documented attempts to cross the border into the United States. The number of immigrants’ encounters set a record.
Her half-day stay-she visited the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing center and met with migrant children there, visited a reception center at the border and held a round table meeting with local service providers-it is unlikely to pass Republican efforts use immigration as a political stick against the government.
Harris defended the timing of her visit and the choice of El Paso. Some critics say the location is too far from the epicenter of the border crossing, putting pressure on federal resources. She told reporters after landing in El Paso that she had said in March that she would come to the border, which was “not a new plan.”
Child separation policy
She said that El Paso was chosen to emphasize the Biden administration’s shift to a more humane immigration policy following the tough stance of former President Donald Trump.
“It was in El Paso that the previous government’s child separation policy was announced,” she said. She also noted Trump’s “stay in Mexico” policy, which forces asylum seekers to wait on the other side of the border for their request to be judged.
“We saw this disaster in El Paso,” she said.
Harris visited with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Majorcas, Texas Democrat Rep. Veronica Escobar, and Illinois Democrat Senator Dick Durbin In the region, the latter is an outstanding representative of the Democratic Party in immigration reform.
Both Majorcas and Escobar stated that they specially invited Harris to the area. Majorcas quickly emphasized that border security is his responsibility, not the vice president’s responsibility.
But Republicans accused Harris of a trip, which they thought was nothing more than a photo shoot. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a conservative Republican and a major critic of the government’s immigration issues, accused Biden’s policy of “opening the floodgates for human smugglers and drug cartels.”
Although Cruz said he was happy that Harris had visited, “If the vice president came to Texas without a specific plan to protect our borders and was unwilling to reverse the government’s failed immigration policy that caused the crisis, then her The visit is just a photo beautification operation”.
Indifferent to border security
In an interview with conservative media Newsmax on Friday, Trump said: “I think she should go to the real part of the border, not the part of the border that is rarely violated.”
Since Biden assigned her to lead the government in efforts to resolve the root causes of immigration from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala to the United States, Harris has been the first to be attacked by Republicans on immigration issues. She emphasized that her focus is to improve the conditions of residents in these countries through economic and humanitarian assistance, encouraging them to stay at home instead of going to the United States.
Republicans try to portray the government as indifferent to border security and try to revive a powerful political weapon against the Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections. Trump plans to visit the region less than a week after Harris, and he will definitely seize her itinerary to continue pushing the Republican narrative.
Other government officials have visited the border many times, but the absence of Biden and Harris has made some Democrats worry that the damage has already been done. Some people worry that the Biden administration has ceded the border security debate to Republicans.
“The government makes Democrats look weak,” Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I heard from Democrats and Republicans in my area, what happened in this administration?”
Cuellar’s area stretches from the south of San Antonio to the US-Mexico border. Last year, he won re-election with the weakest advantage in his career in the past two years. Although he said he was not worried about his re-election, he added, “I am worried about my colleagues.”
Record the arrival of immigrants
In Biden’s first few months in office, the number of immigrants trying to cross the border hit a record high. US Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 180,000 encounters at the Mexican border in May, the most since March last year. These numbers are driven by the asylum-seeking ban related to the coronavirus pandemic, which encourages repeated attempts to cross the border because arrest will not have any legal consequences.
Republicans used these figures to attack Biden and Harris’ weakness in border security. Government officials, including Harris, refuted the accusation. Harris sent a message to immigrants several times during his recent visit to Guatemala: “Don’t come.”
But these comments caused criticism from some progressives, the most famous being New York Rep. Alexander Ocasio-Cortez, who called the news “disappointing.”
This incident highlighted Harris’ political win-win situation and solved a thorny issue that frustrated the past government and was used by both sides to drive wedge and turnout during the campaign season.
If Biden chooses not to be re-elected, Harris will be seen as the main competitor to succeed him, and the immigration issue may become an opportunity to showcase her achievements or become an albatross.
In meetings with faith organizations and providers of shelters and legal services, Harris said that she and Biden “inherit a difficult situation.”
But she insisted that “in five months we have made progress… there is more work to be done, but we have made progress.”