I visited the border and the vice president should too
© Customs and Border Protection

Vice President Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWant to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Will Pence primary Trump — and win? MORE has been challenged by the media for her inability to answer a simple question about her failure to visit to our southwest border, and rightfully so. Although President Joe Biden has given her the task of overseeing the crisis at the border, the vice president still has not seen it directly. Instead, she recently referred to a potential border visit as a “grand gesture” and laughed when asked her about a visit to the crisis-torn area of our country. She then attempted to deflect criticism by saying “I haven’t been to Europe either.” The American people are not asking the vice president to visit Europe, but we are asking her to go and see for herself the damage the Biden administration is causing with its immigration policies. I visited the border earlier this year, and I can assure you it is no laughing matter.

I had the opportunity to visit the border with other members of the Committee on Homeland Security and meet with both federal and state law enforcement officers earlier this year. The Committee on Homeland Security had heard testimony in Congress and seen reports of the crisis, but my colleagues and I wanted a firsthand account of the emergency unfolding on our border. The conditions we saw and stories we heard conveyed a situation far worse than we previously imagined. This is why the vice president must put aside political gamesmanship and visit the border. She needs that same firsthand experience.

The statistics coming from the border daily are staggering as the situation continues to deteriorate. In April, law enforcement agents encountered over 178,000 at the border, the highest number of monthly encounters in the last 20 years and a 944 percent increase compared to April 2020. Included in these numbers were children who were traveling without a parent or guardian. Some of these children travel with individuals who claim to be their family members in an attempt to abuse the rules that treat family groups more leniently than individuals.

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I saw these issues directly when I toured the border. And I have no doubt the vice president would see the same situation unfolding. As part of my visit, I toured a temporary processing center for unaccompanied minors located in Donna, Texas. The processing center, which had a capacity of 250, had held as many as 5,000 children, placing it at 2,000 percent over capacity. Children were packed into rooms with little more than an emergency blanket and just enough room to lie down. The children had almost no room to move around, and the cramped conditions provided ample opportunity for the spread of COVID-19. The images of children confined in small spaces should be enough to convince Vice President Harris of the degree of the crisis unfolding, but it doesn’t stop there.

Lost in the border conversation is the incredible amount of resources being directed to try and manage the surge of immigrants we are experiencing. For example, the overcrowded processing facility in Donna, Texas, costs the taxpayers over $650,000 per day to operate, but this is just a fraction of the total economic costs of addressing the crisis on the border during a time when government spending is already out of control. Perhaps the vice president isn’t interested in economic ramifications of the Biden border crisis. If so, there is still strong reason to go to speak with and show support for our law enforcement.

Many of our border patrol and other law enforcement officers are no longer able to perform the basic duties of their jobs because of the growing need to provide care for the large number of immigrants and children. This shift in resources is being exploited by drug cartels who continue to use the Southwest border as the primary pipeline to bring cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl into the country. Agents reported that the total number of seizures of fentanyl at the border had increased by over 2000 percent in fiscal year 2021 by February.

The evidence of increased cartel activity is undeniable.

Law enforcement officers with whom we spent time are concerned about the large number of immigrants that have flooded into our country since January. We heard repeatedly that recent policy changes by the administration have driven the surge. These changes include not only stopping wall construction, but also reversing Trump administration policies that allowed officials to return immigrants to their countries of origin or required them to remain in Mexico until our courts could rule on their claims of asylum. These are the conversations the vice president is avoiding by failing to meet with the men and women on the front line who are attempting to enforce the rule of law. This “out of sight, out of mind” approach to policy is not only disastrous for our country, it is actively harming innocent men, women, and children for the sake of politics.

Weeks after our trip, President BidenJoe BidenRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Iowa governor suggests immigrants partially to blame for rising COVID-19 cases Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE and Vice President Harris have yet to visit the border. If the humanitarian, economic, and law enforcement ramifications of the Biden border crisis can’t incite the administration to act, then the American people must demand a response, because their continued inaction will only lead to continued failure. The question is no longer whether the crisis on the border exists. Instead, the only question that remains is how long the crisis will last and how bad the crisis must become before the president will act to reverse these disastrous policies. Madam Vice President, it’s time to visit the border.

Michael GuestMichael Patrick GuestDHS considering asylum for migrants whose cases were terminated under Trump I visited the border and the vice president should too The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel MORE represents Mississippi’s 3rd District and is a member of the Committee on Homeland Security.