Kamala Harris’ trip had no impact on immigration, Rep. says

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Kamala Harris' trip had no impact on immigration, Rep. says

A Democratic congressman from Texas on Thursday said Vice President Kamala Harris’ highly touted trip this summer to Mexico and Central America ​to talk to leaders about the “root causes” of immigration had no impact.

“With all due respect, no,” Rep. Henry Cuellar told CNN host Ana Cabrera when asked what impact the June visit to Mexico and Guatemala had on migration. 

“Look, you know, we’ve been providing assistance to Central America since 2014. I was involved with Kay Granger and then at that time Vice President Joe Biden to provide the first $750 million to the Central American countries,” he continued, referring to the Republican congresswoman from Texas.

“I think since then it’s been over $3.5 billion that we have appropriated. And again, it’s the assistance, but we’ve got to work with the private sector to create jobs down there in Central America,” Cuellar said. 

He said the Biden administration is focused on the region around Del Rio, Texas, where thousands of Haitians have gathered at a sprawling and squalid encampment, but Central American migrants are still seeking to cross the border. 

“If you look at the sector of Del Rio, they’ve had over 200,000 encounters. When you look at the Lower Rio Grande Valley, you’ve had over 500,000 encounters,” he said, without providing a timeframe, adding that Haitians will continue to come to the US, as will people from Panama, Colombia and Mexico.

“This is going to go on for a while,” Cuellar warned. 

Harris, named the administration’s point person on immigration in April, traveled to Central America in June even though she had yet to visit the Mexican border. 

Vice President Harris during her trip to Guatemala on June 7, 2021.
Vice President Harris speaks during her trip to Guatemala on June 7, 2021.
EPA/Esteban Biba

An exchange about the border led to an embarrassing comment to NBC News’ Lester Holt, who pressed Harris on when she would travel there.

“At some point, you know, we are going to the border,” Harris told him in an interview conducted in Guatemala — 1,308 miles away from the US-Mexico crossing.

Holt replied: “You haven’t been to the border.” 

“And I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border,” she shot back.

During the visit, Harris also bungled a number of questions about the border.

As the Haitian migrant crisis continues, Harris is taking heat again for not making a trek to the border. 

A family of Haitian migrants crossing the Rio Grande to get into Del Rio, Texas on September 23, 2021.
A family of Haitian migrants crossing the Rio Grande to get into Del Rio, Texas, on September 23, 2021.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the Republican leader in the House, called on the Biden administration to take responsibility for the crisis at the border.

“We need to hear from those responsible for this failure, starting with the vice president,” McCarthy said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday.

“Right now, it seems she is more interested in visiting talk shows and football games than visiting the border. Madam Vice President — this isn’t a news cycle to hide from. It’s a humanitarian, national security, and public health crisis that must be stopped,” he said.

McCarthy was referring to Harris returning to her alma mater, Howard University, on Saturday to preside over the coin toss before the school’s football game against Hampton University.

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