Republican lawmakers are upset that the vice president isn't buying into fearmongering rhetoric about a 'crisis' at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Republicans are lashing out against Vice President Kamala Harris after she said she was not planning to visit the U.S-Mexico border on Monday.
"Do you plan to visit the border?" a reporter asked Harris at the Jacksonville International Airport in Florida, where she was traveling to promote President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and encourage people to get vaccinated.
"Not today," she responded, laughing. "But I have before, and I'm sure I will again."
Republicans quickly pounced, accusing the vice president of not taking the border issue seriously.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise tweeted Tuesday, "Kamala Harris laughs at a reporter who asked her if she has plans to visit the border. Don’t believe this administration when they say they are serious about solving this crisis."
Retweeting Scalise, Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA) wrote, "It is clear that the Biden administration does not take the crisis seriously. This is no laughing matter."
Several other Republicans boosted that message, including Sen. Roger Marshall (KS), Rep. Debbie Lesko (AZ), Rep. Jerry Carl (AL), and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who tweeted Tuesday morning, "The crisis at our border is no laughing matter."
Blackburn is notably one of several Republicans who have visited the U.S.-Mexico border in recent days, primarily to push the narrative that there is a crisis there that has worsened under Biden's various immigration policies.
Many of the Republican lawmakers criticizing Biden and Harris for their immigration policies were notably silent when the Trump administration implemented inhumane immigration policies that ripped apart thousands of families and forced tens of thousands of asylum seekers back across the border with Mexico, often to inhumane tent camps, while they waited out their cases.
Some defended those policies. Zero members of the Republican caucus introduced legislation to end the family separation policy that has resulted in thousands of immigrant children being taken from their parents.
Meanwhile, experts and advocates have questioned the claim of a "crisis" at the border, citing the fact that the number of border apprehensions is actually down from where it was under Donald Trump.
"Biden has different values and has given people hope, but there's no border crisis, to say so is political manipulation," Ramona Casas, who leads the immigration advocacy group Arise, told the Guardian on Friday.
Analysis from a group of immigration experts from the University of California, San Diego, published in the Washington Post on Tuesday, also suggested there is no proof of a border crisis or surge, citing statistics from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
"We analyzed monthly CBP data from 2012 to now and found no crisis or surge that can be attributed to Biden administration policies," they wrote. "Rather, the current increase in apprehensions fits a predictable pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration combined with a backlog of demand because of 2020's coronavirus border closure."
During fiscal year 2019, they noted — under the Trump administration — apprehensions spiked 31% from January to February, higher than the 28% seen in the same period this year.
"What we’re seeing, in other words, isn’t a surge or crisis, but a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded. But that will just be the usual seasonal drop," the experts said. "...So have Biden administration policies caused a crisis at the southern border? Evidence suggests not."
While Biden has pledged to implement more humane immigration policies than his predecessor, he has faced criticism for continuing to deport immigrants under Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allows for the expulsion of immigrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Nobody is coming to the U.S. for fun. They face really significant danger in their home countries and Mexico," Shalyn Fluharty, director of the legal aid group Proyecto Dilley, told the Post earlier in March.
"Every single day that Title 42 continues to exist is a day that our government is doing something disgraceful and inhumane, and it should end," Fluharty added.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.