Rep. Ruiz: ‘Very Confident’ in Kamala Harris’ Ability to Resolve Crisis at US Southern Border

May 24, 2021 Updated: May 24, 2021

Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) expressed confidence during an interview Sunday, in Vice President Kamala Harris’s ability to solve the southern border crisis, even with a record number of families and unaccompanied minors arriving each day.

“We’re very confident under Vice President Harris’s strong leadership that she will find a way,” Ruiz told MSNBC. “She’s already working with local human rights leaders, local organizations that are legitimate, in order to ensure that they receive the aid and that there’s strategic transparent, accountable funding to the government, but mostly going to legitimate non-government organizations who are on the ground with the people.”

Ruiz praised Harris’s reaching out to CEOs of influential corporations to put pressure on those countries to follow the rule of law, create local job opportunities, and work with the Secretary of Agriculture. Ruiz said this is crucial because of the hurricanes that devastated that region’s “subsistence agricultural industry.”

Ruiz’s comments come close to a week after he led the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to meet with Harris on May 17 to discuss how to mitigate the growing influx of migrants from the Northern Triangle.

Vice President Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris listens while holding talks with Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei via video conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s professional, humane, and smart method to address the root causes of migration is the right approach to reduce the cyclical nature of mass migration. I look forward to collaborating under Vice President Harris’s strong leadership to combat corruption and impunity, increase economic opportunity, reduce violence in the region, and provide humanitarian assistance for natural disasters,” Ruiz said in a press statement after the May 17 meeting.

More than 178,000 immigrants were stopped at the U.S.–Mexico border in April, marking a 21-year high in monthly apprehensions, according to figures published by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Of those, over 13,000 were unaccompanied minors.

Although Ruiz did acknowledge the influx of migrants as a problem, he said it was not caused by Biden’s policies but by the “root causes” of hunger, violence, and corruption in the migrants’ home countries.

“We know that the reason why they have mass caravan migration to the north is not because of who’s in the White House, it’s because of the conditions in their home countries,” Ruiz said.

However, Republicans have been critical of Harris’s handling of the border crisis. Since being assigned the role over 2 months ago by President Joe Biden to lead the administration’s response to the migrant crisis, Harris has not held a news conference on the issue.

GOP Senators and Representatives have visited the southern border to draw attention to the massive influx of unaccompanied minors, overcrowded detention facilities, and the drug cartel’s role in the crisis.

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question about the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona, while Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ listens, in Phoenix, Ariz., on Dec. 2, 2020. (Ross D. Franklin, Pool/AP Photo, File)

Unlike Ruiz, 20 U.S. governors who sent a letter (pdf) to Biden and Harris on May 11, blame the situation at the border on Biden immigration policies and want immediate solutions. The governors urged the White House to take action to end policies that have created the crisis at the southern border.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a press release: “As a border state, Arizona is on the front lines of the border crisis. We feel the impacts of human trafficking, drug smuggling, and this humanitarian crisis first. Now, the Biden-Harris border crisis is affecting other states too. And it’s clear the crisis is the direct result of this administration’s broken policies and botched messaging.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Harris told the CHC that the crisis at the border would not be solved in the short term, during their meeting.

“Therefore, we know that the work we will do together is going to have to be a function of our commitment to a long-term approach—understanding that we’re not going to see results overnight,” Harris said.