Republicans' milk carton stunt was ill-timed.
A Republican leader used a prop to blast Vice President Kamala Harris for being "missing" at the U.S.-Mexico border. But at the same time, Harris was in a meeting with experts to discuss immigration issues.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, during a Wednesday morning press conference, held up a milk carton with Harris' photo under the words "missing at the border."
"If she's the vice president of the United States and the president put her in charge of this, Vice President Harris needs to go down to the border and see this for herself," the Louisiana GOP lawmaker said.
But Harris' role, as assigned by President Joe Biden, is not to monitor the activity at the U.S.-Mexico border. Rather, she's been asked to look into the root causes of immigration from Central America — a point that Republican lawmakers have repeatedly ignored.
As Scalise attacked Harris, she held a virtual roundtable with experts to discuss their assessment and perspectives on the Northern Triangle, encompassing the three countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as noted in her daily schedule for Wednesday.
"The focus that we are bringing to our work in the Northern Triangle is really about assessing and figuring out what we might do to encourage economic development," Harris said at the event. She added that she believed the United States needs to "address issues that relate to integrity of government, rule of law, and corruption — but looking at it also in the context of what we can do with the resources we have to assist on issues like agriculture, farming, water irrigation."
She reiterated that Biden tasked Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to tackle issues directly related to the border.
"He has been working very hard at that, and it’s showing some progress because of his hard work," Harris said. "I have been asked to lead the issue of dealing with root causes in the Northern Triangle, similar to what then-Vice President did many years ago."
Former President Barack Obama in 2014 assigned Biden to lead diplomatic efforts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Harris noted that she will be visiting those countries.
"Our focus is to deal with the root causes, and I'm looking forward to traveling, hopefully, as my first trip, to the Northern Triangle — stopping in Mexico and then going to Guatemala sometime soon," she said.
The vice president also held calls with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on March 30 and with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in April to discuss immigration between the countries as well as tackling issues such as poverty, violence, technology, and climate resilience.
Harris mentioned to Giammetei the U.S. plans to provide more humanitarian aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
As the vice president takes active steps in her immigration role, Republican lawmakers continue to tie her directly to the border as a way to slam Biden's immigration policies and push the "crisis" at the border narrative.
"She's hiding because she (and her party) WANT the border crisis to continue. This is happening BY DESIGN!" tweeted Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the embattled former White House physician accused of misconduct, on April 6.
Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) tweeted on April 7, "It's been two weeks since @VP was put in charge of the border crisis. Why hasn’t she visited the border yet?"
In addition to the milk carton of Harris, Scalise said on Wednesday, "We're going to continue to raise awareness to this crisis at America's southern border. It was exclusively created by President Biden."
"Maybe she (Harris) would then encourage President Biden to reverse his policies that have failed," he said.
However, experts and research have suggested that there is no "crisis" at the border.
"We analyzed monthly U.S. Customs and Border Protection data from 2012 through February and found no clear evidence that the overall increase in border crossings in 2021 can be attributed to Biden administration policies," said three experts from the University of California at San Diego, who published their findings on The Washington Post.
They continued, "Rather, the current increase fits a pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration combined with a backlog of demand because of 2020s coronavirus border closure."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.