Border czar Kamala Harris, whose administration oversaw a fiscal-year record high of 2.4 million border encounters in 2022, on Monday blamed the nation's migrant crisis on Republicans.
"Sadly, what we have seen in particular, I am sad to say, from Republicans in Congress is an unwillingness to engage in any meaningful reform that could actually fix a lot of what we are witnessing," Harris, who has made one visit to the southern border despite handling the White House's border portfolio since March 2021, told NPR.
The vice president's comments come just weeks after President Joe Biden said there are "more important things going on" than visiting the border amid a record surge in illegal immigration. Many Republican lawmakers point to Biden’s policies, including attempting to repeal Title 42, a Trump-era rule that lowers the number of asylum seekers permitted into the United States due to the pandemic, as contributing to the surge. Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday temporarily ordered that Title 42 stay in place. It was set to expire on Wednesday.
El Paso’s Democratic mayor Oscar Leeser said 20,000 migrants are waiting in Mexico for the order to expire. The number of migrants streaming across the border hit a monthly record in September, with border agents reporting 230,000 encounters. Last week more than 1,000 migrants, reportedly the "largest caravan in history," crossed into Texas.
Republican governors have tried to compensate for the lack of federal support. Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) is resuming wall construction and deployed 400 National Guard members to help with the border crisis. The governor also deployed his state's "contingency border force" Monday to aid in addressing the influx of illegal immigrants.
"More border wall is going up next month," Abbott said last week. "It took months to negotiate with private property owners on the border for the right to build on their property."
Arizona governor Doug Ducey (R.), meanwhile, installed hundreds of shipping containers along his state’s border. The Biden administration is suing Arizona over the makeshift wall, and Democrat governor-elect Katie Hobbs says she opposes it.