Top House Republicans ask Harris for meeting on border

Vice President Harris arrives to pay her respects to U.S. Capitol Police officer William Evans as he lies in honor at the U.S. Capitol
Greg Nash

The top Republicans on three House committees with oversight of immigration policy on Monday asked Vice President Harris for a meeting on conditions at the southern border.

In a letter signed by GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), John Katko (N.Y.) and James Comer (Ky.), the lawmakers criticized Harris for her role in ameliorating conditions at the border.

“It is unclear what, if any, actions you have directed or plan to initiate to respond to the crisis that continues to worsen every day,” wrote the lawmakers.

Jordan is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Katko on House Homeland Security and Comer on House Oversight and Government Reform.

Harris last month was tapped as President Biden’s czar for relations with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — as well as with private enterprise and civil society in the region, in an effort to address the root causes of regional migration.

Harris last week announced she will travel to Mexico and Guatemala as part of her regional migration portfolio; her office declined to comment on the Republican lawmakers’ letter.

Administration officials have grown increasingly frustrated as Republicans have targeted Harris over conditions at the border, although the top administration officials in charge of border management are Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Earlier this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki sparred with a reporter at a press briefing who asked if Harris was “backing away” from the politically contentious issue.

“The Northern Triangle is not the same as the border. They’re all related to each other but being responsible and in the lead for the Northern Triangle is working with these countries in the region, addressing the root causes, working with them on how we can address issues like long term food insecurity, drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes, etc.,” said Psaki.

Still, Republicans say conditions on the border and in the Northern Triangle are part of the same issue.

“In no rational world can you separate what’s happening at the southern border with what’s happening in the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico. President Biden tapped Vice President Harris to manage this crisis and the Vice President is now trying to distract from the obvious disaster created by their Administration,” a House Judiciary Republican spokesperson told The Hill in an email.

The Biden administration has come under criticism from the left and right over its border management policies.

From the left, advocates and Democrats have been especially critical of a number of Trump administration policies left in place by the Biden administration; Republicans have called out Biden for the Trump policies that have been amended or rescinded.

In their letter to Harris, the lawmakers cited recent trips to the border, where they said committee members heard from Customs and Border Protection officials, who “have had to divert scarce resources away from the agency’s primary national security mission and law enforcement duties to instead process illegal aliens.”

The three lawmakers asked Harris for a meeting before April 30 to discuss the border.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Immigration James Comer Jen Psaki Jim Jordan Joe Biden John Katko US-Mexico Border Xavier Becerra

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