Since taking office in January, the Biden-Harris administration has constantly downplayed the situation at the border. In the face of record-high border apprehension numbers, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has repeatedly refused to describe the situation (accurately) as a crisis, opting for a “situation” as the administration’s buzzword. Border czar and Vice President Kamala Harris punts responsibility for securing the southern border. Mark Krikorian offers a plausible explanation: The White House does not view the surge of illegal aliens at the border as a problem that needs to be solved.
Unfortunately for the Biden administration, the American people are not buying it, with polls showing broad opposition to its border policies. Even more concerning from the Biden administration’s perspective, its allies in the media aren’t buying it either.
Earlier this week, Harris traveled to Guatemala to plead with Central Americans to stop politically harming the administration. Twice she implored them during a press conference, “Do not come.” Yet actions speak louder than words, and these economic migrants, not to mention the cartels and coyotes, are well aware that the Biden-Harris administration just terminated the "Remain in Mexico" policy, which was the biggest deterrent the Trump administration put in place to discourage the journey north.
In an effort to do damage control, Harris’s handlers had her sit down for a one-on-one interview with NBC’s Lester Holt. Clearly, they were expecting softball questions, but to Harris's — and my — surprise, Holt repeatedly pressed the vice president about her border posture. The interview, which aired June 8 on NBC’s “Today”, was teed up by the anchor describing the border situation as an “ongoing crisis” before noting that this is Harris’s first international trip since taking office. After a lengthy non-response response to Holt’s question about why Central Americans should believe Harris’s “do not come” warning, he pointed out that the public sees the images daily of our southern border being overwhelmed.
Then Holt cuts to the chase, asking “Why not visit the border? Why not see what Americans are seeing in this crisis?” (Emphasis added.) In response, Harris offers that “we”, presumably some administration officials, have been to the border, while emphasizing that she is in Guatemala to “identify the problem”, to understand “why people are arriving at the border”. This is a strange response; wouldn’t it make more sense to go to the southern border to ask the apprehended aliens why they came rather than fly to Guatemala to speak with people who may or may not intend to travel north in the future?
My colleague Todd Bensman already has the answer for the vice president, having done just that — spoken to the illegal aliens being released into the country. The response was universally that Biden’s campaign rhetoric and non-enforcement policies since taking office are fueling the surge. Bensman even spoke to a cartel member responsible for transporting the economic migrants and he confirmed the new administration is driving his lucrative business. Those south of the border even have a name for this phenomenon: Biden’s la invitación.
Guatemalan president Giammattei knows it, too. In the context of the Biden-Harris administration taking over, he told CBS News, “The message changed too: ‘We’re going to reunite families, we’re going to reunite children.’ The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”
After a few minutes of back-and-forth between Holt and Harris about what the U.S. is doing to stop the exodus of Central Americans from taking the journey north, Holt circles back with “do you have any plans to visit the border?” (Emphasis added.) A clearly annoyed Harris threw up her arms and dismissively said, “at some point”, while shaking her head side-to-side. Harris then set herself up for failure by repeatedly saying “we’ve been to the border”, to which Holt, to his credit, replied “You haven’t been to the border.” Bizarrely, she shoots back that “and I haven’t been to Europe”, followed by her trademark cackle.
It is clear that Harris has no desire to do what's needed to secure the border, and that she is also unprepared to handle tough questions about the crisis. Rather than boosting her foreign affairs credentials ahead of 2024, Harris’s visit to Guatemala, and the NBC interview, flopped. The border crisis is not going away and it is becoming a growing political liability. At least Harris got her frequent flier miles. Any wagers on whether the vice president jet sets off to Europe before visiting the southern border?