After nearly three weeks without a word on the border crisis, Vice President Kamala Harris finally spoke out on the issue this Wednesday. Harris was hand-picked by President Joe Biden to investigate the happenings at the border but has been silent on the issues over the last 20 days. The last time she spoke regarding the crisis, Harris simply responded to a question regarding her intentions to visit the border with, “not today,” and a quick laugh.
The Vice President defended her lack of attention in Wednesday’s statement, by deferring the blame onto others. She announced that “the president has asked Secretary Mayorkas to address what is going on at the border and he has been working very hard… I have been asked to lead the issue of dealing with root causes in the Northern Triangle…but I will tell you these are issues that aren’t going to be addressed overnight.” The Northern Triangle is a trio of Central American countries, consisting of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras that a significant number of people seek to immigrate.
Although she has still yet to visit the Mexican border, despite visits to California over Easter weekend, Vice President Harris has plans to travel elsewhere. She mentioned “we have plans in the works to go to Guatemala as soon as possible,” adding that she does intend to visit Mexico, although no dates were offered.
Republicans have grown weary of Harris’ absence to the point where jokes have spawned from it, her face was printed on milk cartons with the message “missing from the border.”
However, Democrats continue to go to bat for the Vice President, arguing that her responsibility is to identify “root causes” of the immigration wave rather than to stand watch at the border and count the number of people passing through. White House representatives implore that Harris is involved in what they describe as “high-level diplomatic work” that requires her attention elsewhere, not necessarily at the border itself.
Republicans continue to counter, with Department of Homeland Security veterans suggesting that knowing what is going on at the border is necessary to be able to successfully have talks about fixing it. “The two are linked, you can’t do one without the other,” said Chad Wolf, a former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, “you can’t talk to Northern Triangle Countries, or Mexican officials, without understanding…the border” itself.
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said via MSNBC that “It’s not an assignment to ‘handle the border’” it is too large of a situation to simply handle but it needs direct attention and a plan moving forward to make it more manageable. Unfortunately, the White House and Democrats as a whole have refused to acknowledge the border situation as a crisis, despite the obvious reasons to do so.
As of a report taken early this week, the border has thus far seen the crossings of upwards of 20,000 migrant children which is expected to jump to 35,000 or more by June. These children have been held in camps and hotels that have so far cost the nation nearly $87 million. Recently, 2,700 federal employees were given the option to step away from their positions to offer their services at the border to care for these migrant children. These employees will help with tasks anywhere from food delivery to actual child care and will earn four months of paid leave for their work. Government employees leaving their original jobs to help border children puts an even greater financial strain on the government, because now they are not only supporting the needs of the children but are paying people to do jobs that are no longer getting done.