Despite Record Illegal Crossings At The Southern Border, Harris Laughs At Actually Going To See The Crisis For Herself

As The Crisis At The Southern U.S. Border Continues, The Biden Administration Is Still Sending Mixed Messages On Enforcement And Vice President Kamala Harris, The President’s ‘Point Person’ On The Issue, Laughs About Her Continued Failure To Even Visit The Border


Illegal Crossings At The Southern Border Are Already The ‘Most In Over A Decade’ With The Border Patrol ‘Seeing A Dramatic Rise In Attempted Crossings From Mexico, Central And South America’

“The number of migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year is already the most since 2006 — with four months left to go, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data obtained by Axios. ..: The numbers quantify a lingering problem. Nearly 900,000 migrants were stopped by the Border Patrol from Oct. 1 to May 31. There also were more than 170,000 apprehensions last month — in line with 20-year records set in March and April. In addition, there continue to be significant numbers of migrants from more distant nations such as Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti, the data show.” (“Scoop: Illegal Border Crossings Most In Over Decade — With Four Months To Go,” Axios, 6/08/2021)

“Despite the [treacherous] landscape [south of Tuscon], Border Patrol is seeing a dramatic rise in attempted crossings from Mexico, Central and South America. Encounters are up more than 150% this year from the same period last year. And detections by the Border Patrol’s drones monitoring the area from the air have tripled in the same time period, the agency says. In a new development, migrants and smugglers are using military-style tactics to avoid detection. Migrants come north dressed like soldiers, wearing camouflage. They wear boots made from sections of carpet to obscure their footsteps. Crucially, they come across in multiple groups as small as one or two people, dropped along the border and told to enter at different times to outwit and overwhelm Border Patrol agents. ‘What they’re doing is what we call swarming,’ Sabri Dikman, acting deputy chief patrol agent of the Tucson Sector, told CNN. ‘So instead of in years gone by where we’d have a group of 20, a group of 30 crossing the border, currently we see 10 groups of two, so what happens is they split up, they cross the border, and it takes two agents or one agent to address each one of those individual groups so we become task-saturated.’” (“In Arizona, Border Patrol Encounters New Tactics In Migrants’ Bid To Cross Into US,” CNN, 5/20/2021)


The Situation Is So Bad, HHS ‘Diverted More Than $2 Billion Meant For Other Health Initiatives Toward Covering The Cost Of Caring For Unaccompanied Immigrant Children’

“The Department of Health and Human Services has diverted more than $2 billion meant for other health initiatives toward covering the cost of caring for unaccompanied immigrant children, as the Biden administration grapples with a record influx of migrants on the southern border. The redirected funds include $850 million that Congress originally allocated to rebuild the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile, the emergency medical reserve strained by the Covid-19 response. Another $850 million is being taken from a pot intended to help expand coronavirus testing, according to three people with knowledge of the matter…. In addition to transferring money from the Strategic National Stockpile and Covid-19 testing, HHS also has pulled roughly $436 million from a range of existing health initiatives across the department.” (“Biden Admin Reroutes Billions In Emergency Stockpile, Covid Funds To Border Crunch,” Politico, 5/15/2021)

  • “The reshuffling, which HHS detailed to congressional appropriators in notices over the last two months, illustrates the extraordinary financial toll that sheltering more than 20,000 unaccompanied children has taken on the department so far this year, as it scrambled to open emergency housing and add staff and services across the country. It also could open the administration up to further scrutiny over a border strategy that has dogged President Joe Biden for months, as administration officials struggle to stem the flow of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children into the U.S.” (“Biden Admin Reroutes Billions In Emergency Stockpile, Covid Funds To Border Crunch,” Politico, 5/15/2021)


Yet The Biden Administration Continues To Send Mixed Messages, Between Loosening Rules And Inconsistent Enforcement

“When he took office, President Joe Biden loosened rules at the border, letting children without parents cross — but agents were supposed to expel all other undocumented migrants. The policy allows the Biden administration to say, ‘The border is closed.’ In reality, the border is not closed. Under Biden, the determination of who stays and who goes has become a lottery with winners and losers. Timing is everything, the merits of an asylum claim often beside the point. On some days here in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest section of the U.S.-Mexico border, families … are expelled, while on others, single males who’ve come looking for work are allowed to stay pending their hearings.” (“Under Biden, Crossing The Border Has Become Like A Lottery For Migrants. Timing Is Everything.,” NBC News, 6/02/2021)

  • “The reason, said Brian Hastings, sector chief of the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol, is that some enter on days when Mexico cannot take them back. Hastings said 17 percent of all families and single adults apprehended by his agents this year have been released into the U.S., much as they would have been before the Trump administration began using the Covid-19 restrictions known as Title 42 to begin denying access to asylum-seekers last year. Borderwide, about 15 percent of single adults and 65 percent of families are released into the U.S. rather than expelled, according to Customs and Border Protection data from April…. Hastings said he thinks the way Title 42 is being enforced makes it difficult to send a consistent message to would-be migrants about what will await them if they decide to make the journey to the U.S., which he strongly discourages. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that its ability to expel migrants can be limited by ‘Mexico’s ability and capacity to receive those individuals.’” (“Under Biden, Crossing The Border Has Become Like A Lottery For Migrants. Timing Is Everything.,” NBC News, 6/02/2021)

“Why are they coming now? Many believe that US law and Border Patrol operations changed with the new administration. And smugglers are taking advantage of that perception, lying to migrants about how they will be received at the border. ‘We interview almost everyone that we arrest,’ Dikman said. ‘What we’ve found is some of them do have a perception that there’s been a change in immigration laws -- a perception that there’s a gap in enforcement on the US border. But that’s their perception. We’re still out there every day doing our job.’ ‘The laws for immigration have not changed, so our job has not changed,’ Jesus Vasavilbaso, Border Patrol Agent, Tucson Sector, told me. ‘We’re still enforcing the same laws we have been enforcing for many years.’” (“In Arizona, Border Patrol Encounters New Tactics In Migrants’ Bid To Cross Into US,” CNN, 5/20/2021)


Latin American Leaders: ‘Expectations Were Created,’ ‘We Asked The United States Government To Send More Of A Clear Message’

“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador asserted that the Biden administration’s immigration policies have contributed to a surge of migrants that has overwhelmed facilities at the southern border in recent weeks.” (“Mexico’s President Says Biden Immigration Policies Prompting Border Surge,” Fox News, 3/23/2021)

Mexico’s government is worried the new U.S. administration’s asylum policies are stoking illegal immigration and creating business for organized crime, according to officials and internal assessments seen by Reuters…. Detentions on the U.S border have surged since Biden took office on Jan. 20. Mexico has urged Washington to help stem the flow …” (“Exclusive: ‘Migrant President’ Biden Stirs Mexican Angst Over Boom Time For Gangs,” Reuters, 3/10/2021)

GUATEMALAN PRESIDENT ALEJANDRO GIAMMATTEI: “The message changed to, ‘We are going to reunite families and we are going to reunite children.’ … The very next day the coyotes here were organizing groups of children to take them to the United States. … We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving.’” (“Guatemala’s President Says Kamala Harris "Doesn’t Hold Back" Ahead Of Immigration Talks,” CBS News, 6/06/2021)


Meanwhile, After Being Designated As The ‘Point Person’ For The Border Crisis, Vice President Harris Laughs At The Idea Of Actually Visiting The Border

“President Biden announced Wednesday that Vice President Harris will become the point person for the administration in seeking to stem the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. As part of that role, she will work with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as the administration grapples with an influx of asylum seekers.” (“Harris To Be Point Person For Biden Administration In Stemming Flow Of Migrants At The Border,” The Washington Post, 3/24/2021)

NBC NEWS’ LESTER HOLT: “Do you have any plans to visit the border?”

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: “At some point, you know, we are going to the border. We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”
HOLT: “You haven’t been to the border.”
HARRIS: “And I haven’t been to Europe! [Laughter] And I mean—I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.” (NBC’s “Today Show,” 6/08/2021)


And White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Dismisses The Idea And Tries To Blame The Previous Administration For The Crisis Happening On This Administration’s Watch

REPORTER: “And, then I just had another on the Vice President visiting the border or not visiting the border. Republicans and conservatives are, you know, going crazy on Twitter, sending pictures—”
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JEN PSAKI: “They’re worked up. I’ve seen it.”
REPORTER: “--sending video of her interview with Lester Holt, you know, saying, you know, ‘I’ve not been to Europe either.’ Does the president think there is a scenario in which she should visit the border and also the mounting criticism from conservatives? Does that--would that ever factor into a decision to send her down there? I mean, don’t they have a point that if she has this task in front of her, should she not see the end cause as well as the root cause of immigration?
PSAKI: “Well, first, as I said to Peter, at some point, she may go to the border. I don’t have any trips to preview for you or predict or a timeline for that. ... I will say, we’re not taking advice from former President Trump or most of the Republicans who are criticizing us on this, given they were all sitting there while we created this problem we walked into, both at the border and with the movement of migration that has been growing over the last year. So, we’re not taking our guidance and advice from them, but if it is constructive and it moves the ball forward for her to visit the border, she certainly may do that.” (White House Press Briefing, 6/08/2021)

REPORTER:About the vice president’s trip, why is it that--that when the vice president is asked if she has plans to visit the border, she says, ‘We’ve been to the border,’ even though she has not, as vice president?”
PSAKI:Well, as the vice president, she does speak for the actions of the people in the administration she certainly helps oversee. I expect that sometime, she may go to the border, Peter, but as you know, what her focus has been, what the assignment is specifically, is to work with leaders in the Northern Triangle. She’s on a trip doing exactly that, exactly what the president asked her to do.”
REPORTER: And, as we understand it, though, her main focus is to try to address the root causes of migration. Did somebody decide here that it would not be helpful for her to go to the border and talk to people who just migrated here?”
PSAKI: “Well, again, I think that at some point, she may go to the border. We’ll see. …”
REPORTER: “And, she described, though--you said she might go to the border. She described a trip to the border yesterday as a grand gesture. Why?”
PSAKI: “Look Peter, again, I think her focus of this trip is on meeting with leaders, having a discussion about how to address corruption, how to address the root causes, how to work together to address humanitarian challenges in these countries. That’s exactly what she’s doing on the ground and I’m sure she’ll report back to the President when she returns.” (White House Press Briefing, 6/08/2021)



Related Issues: Immigration, Homeland Security