The Republicans, as they have done for months, noted that Harris hasn’t yet visited the border amid a surge in illegal immigration. Some Democratic lawmakers who represent areas along the border have also called on the vice president to take more action, including a visit to the area.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) and 55 other Republicans in the House demanded Harris’s removal from her border assignment, citing recent Customs and Border Protection data that shows that 180,000 people were apprehended last month after crossing the border illegally.
“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 lawmakers wrote in their letter. “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.”
Harris has defended not going to the border and said she will visit the border sometime in the future.
When she visited Mexico and Guatemala this month, Harris said that the “root causes” of the illegal immigration problem should be addressed. However, her explanation to reporters in Mexico about why she hasn’t visited the border yet overshadowed her trip, saying that the White House is aiming to boost economic development in the region.
She told reporters: “It would be very easy to say, ‘We’ll travel to one place, and therefore it’s solved.’ I don’t think anybody thinks that that would be the solution.” When pressed about visiting the border again, Harris said she did so when she was a senator from California.
Harris has also said that their mission primarily is diplomatic work focused on the “Northern Triangle” countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, as well as Mexico.
During a testy exchange last week between Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Mayorkas said that questions about Harris not having visited the border are “quite unfair and disrespectful.” Norman was one of the signatories of the letter asking Biden to relieve Harris of her duties.
Mayorkas said, “Let me be very clear, the president and the vice president have requested and directed me to visit the border, which I have done on multiple occasions.”
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) has become possibly the most vocal Democrat in the House about the border crisis. Last week, he wrote a letter to the vice president requesting she meet with him and visit the border, but he later told Fox News that he hasn’t heard back from her office.
“I encourage you to join me and other Members of Congress, while we visit with the people on the ground who deal with these issues every day,” Cuellar wrote. “I believe it is critical that you meet with local stakeholders and residents, consider their concerns, and use their lived experiences to implement more effective policies.”
The White House has been contacted for comment.