Amid criticism of her hands-off approach to her role as the Biden administration’s point person on the nation’s migrant crisis, Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday haughtily dismissed suggestions from Republicans that she visit the border to personally witness the disastrous conditions there, saying she is focused on “tangible” initiatives rather than “grand gestures,” as the Washington Examiner reports.
Tapped by President Joe Biden in March to lead the White House response to the record-breaking influx of migrants seen in recent months, Harris has faced significant backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for failing to travel to the border or to hold a press conference outlining strategies in response to conditions even members of her own party have described as “inhumane” and “barbaric.”
Continuing to insist that her assigned duties relate more to tackling the “root causes” of mass migration from Central America rather than confronting the real-life consequences of the recent rush to the border, Harris this week traveled to Guatemala to discuss issues including climate change, economic instability, political corruption, and food insecurity, all things she says are key drivers of the current situation.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel used the occasion of the vice president’s foreign trip to point out that the Guatemalan jaunt afforded Harris a perfect opportunity to “stop at the U.S. border on her way…to see see Biden’s record-breaking border crisis firsthand,” but did so to no avail.
Doubling down on her stubborn avoidance of the elephant in the room, during a press conference with President Alejandro Giammattei Monday Harris declared that she will remain focused on underlying causes of migrant “as opposed to grand gestures,” such as making a personal appearance at the border, asserting that she is instead committed to “tangible steps” toward stemming the tide of arrivals.
Her stance has long been a curious one, considering that the past few months have seen numerous legislators, both Republican and Democrat, making trips to the border to survey overcrowded conditions at detention facilities and to get a feel for the daunting challenges facing law enforcement personnel and residents on the ground in the impacted areas, but Harris has deliberately stayed away.
That Biden and Harris have both remained remained unmoved and have declined to obtain first-hand exposure to the situation prompted Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas to say last week, “All I’ve been asking this administration…is to listen to the people that live on the border,” and to implore the president and vice president to visit the area as soon as possible.
Speaking rather more frankly on the issue earlier this year, as the Examiner noted, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) chided, “Here’s my message: President Biden and Vice President Harris, with all due respect, get off your a** and go to the border and look and see what you have caused by policies that will not work. Quit denying the obvious.”
Recent reports suggest that Harris is intentionally steering clear of the border due to fears that any association with the crisis will harm her future political aspirations, but hopefully leaders on both sides of the aisle will continue holding her feet to the fire and compel her to face up to this key responsibility.