Over 50 House Republicans call on Biden to replace Harris in leading immigration efforts at US-Mexico border

Biden Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks about distribution of COVID-19 vaccines at the White House on May 17, 2021.

  • Over 50 Republicans have called on Biden to replace Vice President Harris in immigration efforts at the border.
  • “Harris has not yet shown adequate interest in observing this crisis first-hand,” the group said.
  • The administration has emphasized that Harris is not a “czar” in charge of managing the border.
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More than 50 House Republicans have called on President Joe Biden to remove Vice President Kamala Harris from leading the effort to address the root causes of the surge in migrants at the US-Mexico border, accusing her of “inaction.”

In a letter to Biden, 56 Republicans, led by GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, have expressed “serious concerns” about Harris’s role in handling what they deem a “crisis” at the southern border.

The group cited recent figures released by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which revealed 180,034 migrant encounters at the southern border last month.

“Despite being in the midst of a border crisis this country has not seen in two decades, Vice President Harris has not yet shown adequate interest in observing this crisis first-hand,” the letter said.

They added: “In the 85 days since the Vice President has been tasked with solving this crisis, she has yet to visit the border and meet with Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and local law enforcement officials.”

In March, Biden tapped Harris to work with Central American nations to address the root causes of the surge in migrants seeking to come to the US.

Addressing Biden, the members of Congress found fault in the president’s selection of Harris.

“At the time of her appointment, you stated, ‘I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this.’ We disagree,” the letter said.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a frequent critic of the administration, on Tuesday blasted Harris for not visiting the border since taking office in January.

“Vice President Harris, who was in charge of the border, seems determined to go anywhere she can but the border,” he said.

Read more: How Biden’s chances of receiving Communion are in jeopardy because of his abortion stance

Harris and her staff have stressed that their diplomatic work is focused on Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. However, Republicans have sought to shift broader concerns about the US-Mexico border onto Harris, despite the administration emphasizing that she is not a “czar” in charge of managing the border.

During a recent NBC interview, Harris discussed the border issues in a series of exchanges with Lester Holt.

As a former US Senator from California, she represented a state with a 140-mile border with Mexico.

“It is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them,” she said. “And so that’s what I’m doing.”

Harris said she would personally go to the border “at some point” and stressed other administration officials had already paid visits.

“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris said. “We’ve been to the border. So this whole, this whole, this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”

“You haven’t been to the border,” Holt responded, calling out Harris’s lack of a visit since taking office as vice president.

“And I haven’t been to Europe,” Harris said. “I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border. … I care about what’s happening at the border. I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Over 171,000 migrants were apprehended at the US border in March, the highest number in 15 years

migrant
A US Border Patrol agent processes migrants after they arrived illegally from Mexico on March 29, 2021 in Roma, Texas.

  • A record number of migrants were taken into CBP custody last month, new data shows.
  • Over 171,000 migrants were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in March.
  • In January, the number taken into custody stood at 78,442.
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Over 171,000 migrants were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in March, according to a Washington Post analysis of preliminary data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

This marks the highest number of migrants taken into custody in a single month since 2006. In January, the number taken into custody stood at 78,442.

The massive uptick comes as the Biden administration is under increasing scrutiny over the situation at the border, particularly as it pertains to unaccompanied migrant children.

President Joe Biden has faced criticism over holding migrant children in jail-like facilities meant for adults over the legal limit of 72 hours, when they’re meant to be transferred from CBP to the custody of Health and Human Services. But the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges in this regarding, leading to limited space as officials seek to uphold public health guidelines.

The Post reports that CBP took in over 18,800 unaccompanied minors in March, marking a 99% increase from February. The previous one-month high comes from May 2019 and is far lower: 11,861 minors.

There are a lot of complicated factors contributing to the situation at the border.

There is generally an uptick in migrant arrivals around spring, when the weather gets warmer, before it levels off around May. The COVID-19 pandemic also created a backlog as people waited to make the journey north. Devastating hurricanes in November that hit the Northern Triangle countries in Central America that many migrants come from – El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala – have also played a role.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have blamed Biden’s more welcoming messaging on immigration and his plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented immigrants for the massive increase in arrivals. They’ve referred to the situation as a “Biden border crisis,” a characterization the White House has vehemently rejected.

That said, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently acknowledged that the number of arrivals was reaching historic levels. In a statement last month, he said, “We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”

Democrats, especially progressive-leaning lawmakers, have been critical of the conditions children are being held in and pressured Biden to resolve the situation quickly.

Biden tapped FEMA to help with the situation, as his administration continues to urge migrants not to make the journey up to the border.

Read the original article on Business Insider