AUSTIN, Texas (KETK, AP) — The announcement that Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday will make her first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border was met with skepticism from the Gov. Greg Abbott.
“Vice President Harris is ignoring the real problem areas along our southern border that are not protected by the border wall and are being overrun by the federal government’s ill-thought-out open border policies,” Abbott said. “She will fail in her mission if she refuses to speak to residents of the Del Rio sector whose homes and ranches are being overrun by gangs and smugglers.”
Harris will visit the El Paso area, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, according to a statement Wednesday from Harris senior adviser Symone Sanders.
The visit comes as Harris has faced months of attacks from Republicans, and even some frustration from those in her own party, for declining to visit the area. Harris has been tasked by President Joe Biden with taking on the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States.
So far she has focused her efforts on improving economic and living conditions in the region. Her aides have repeatedly insisted her focus is distinct from the security issues that plague U.S. officials trying to handle a spike in border crossings.
On her visit to Guatemala and Mexico this month, she urged Central Americans not to try to reach the U.S. border. She tried to give people a sense of hope that would encourage them to stay home.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 180,000 encounters on the Mexican border in May, the most since March 2000. But the numbers were boosted by a pandemic-related ban on seeking asylum, which encouraged repeated attempts to cross the border because getting caught carried no legal consequences.
Harris’ trip will come just days before former President Donald Trump is set to visit the border next week with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana and about a dozen members of the conservative Republican Study Committee he leads will also be joining the trip, another sign of how closely the party continues to align itself with Trump and the extent to which they see the border as a winning campaign issue.
Trump took credit for Harris’ trip, speculating in a statement that the vice president would not have made plans to go if Trump hadn’t been headed there himself.
Republicans have tried to make Harris the face of the administration’s policies, charging that she and Biden were ignoring the issue because both had yet to visit the border. Harris, during her trip to Latin America, told reporters she was focused on “tangible” results “as opposed to grand gestures.”
Abbott said that some Texans who live near the border have had their homes broken into, property damaged, and guns pointed at their heads.
Cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers are profiting off the Biden Administration’s “reckless open-border policies,” the governor said.
He said that since he launched Operation Lone Star in March to combat this the influx of crime at the border, the DPS has arrested over 1,700 criminals, apprehended over 41,000 migrants, and seized enough fentanyl to kill over 21 million people.
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