Former aides to Vice President Kamala Harris reportedly believe President Joe Biden gave her the immigration issue to manage because he did not want to deal with it himself, following a widely-panned first trip abroad in an official capacity.
“If you give someone a sh***ty assignment because the president doesn’t want to do it himself, you can’t be mad when the treacherous situation looks treacherous,” one former aide reportedly told Axios. Illegal crossings at the United States’ southern border have reached an all-time high, and Harris has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for her handling of the assignment.
Border patrol captured 180,000 migrants at America’s border with Mexico in May, following 178,000 in April and 173,000 in March. Despite the surge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported the fewest number of illegal immigrants in the agency’s history — 2,962 — in April.
After initially tapping Harris to “lead our diplomatic effort and work with those nations to accept the returnees, and enhance migration enforcement at their borders,” Harris and the White House have said she will address the “root causes” of migration from Central America’s Northern Triangle to the United States. (RELATED: Kamala Harris’ Team Reportedly Panicked After Biden Gave Her Immigration Assignment)
During her Central America trip, Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Both men have blamed the Biden administration for the surge in migrants.
“Expectations were created that with the Government of President [Joe] Biden there would be better treatment of migrants,” Obrador said. “And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so.”
“We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving,” Giammattei added. “The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”
In response, Harris urged potential migrants not to make the journey from Guatemala to the United States. “I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border, do not come, do not come,” she said. “If you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the comments “disappointing.”
“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival. Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
This is disappointing to see.
First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival.
Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing. https://t.co/vADyh5H0bw
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 7, 2021
Harris’ performance on immigration has also been criticized by Republicans, since she has not visited the border with Mexico.
Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy criticized Harris’ June 8 NBC News appearance, in which she claimed that she has not “been to Europe either” when Lester Holt pressed her on not visiting the southern border.
“If the Vice President, and by extension the President, laughs off her duty to visit the Texas-Mexico border as a ‘grand gesture,’ then consider this memo as the update on the state of the border,” Roy told the Daily Caller after he submitted a memo advising the White House on immigration policy.