“This is not a surge. These are children, and they are not insurgents, and we are not being invaded. Which, by the way, is a white supremacist philosophy. The idea that if another is coming in the population, that this is an invasion of who we are."
That's Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Boebert and Omar fight leaves GOP scrambling Dearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized MORE's (D-N.Y.) latest WTF moment on Instagram, which is breathtaking even for the same person who once said during the Trump years that unemployment was low only "because everybody is working two jobs," which isn't how unemployment numbers are calculated.
So let's unpack this latest verbal masterpiece by quoting the most popular member of Congress (from a social media perspective) in 2019, when a surge decidedly smaller than this one was happening at the border under the previous administration.
"The child detention camps are here. I confronted the border officers myself. Using their names, I told them exactly what they are responsible for. One of them made eye contact with me. I spoke directly to him. I saw his sense of guilt. We can dismantle this," Ocasio-Cortez declared in 2018 while calling migrant facilities "concentration camps."
She also used the opportunity to visit the border for this infamous photo-op.
I’ll never forget this, because it was the moment I saw with my own eyes that the America I love was becoming a nation that steals refugee children from their parents,& caged them.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 25, 2019
More kids died after this. To date, no one has been held accountable.
We need to save these kids. https://t.co/HhdMqc5zML
Fast forward to 2021, and with Democrats completely in control, suddenly the congresswoman can't seem to find the time to visit the border to take more self-promotional photos.
She also can't bring herself – much like the Biden administration – to call this border crisis a border crisis, instead arguing that it’s "an imperialism crisis, it’s a climate crisis. It’s a trade crisis. And also, it’s a carceral crisis.”
AOC doesn’t have a monopoly on immigration hypocrisy, though.
"I will also immediately put in place a meaningful process for reviewing the cases for asylum," Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTrump: McConnell must use debt limit to crush Biden agenda Building back a better vice presidency Stacey Abrams nominated to board of solar energy firm MORE – then a presidential candidate – declared in 2019 during a primary debate. "I will release children from cages. I will get rid of the private detention centers," she added. In a related story, candidate Biden urged migrants to "surge the border" during the same debate.
Flashback:— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 17, 2021
In the first Democratic primary debate, Biden says when he’s president, illegal immigrants should “immediately surge to the border” pic.twitter.com/Fq1vCNEN75
Well, now here's her chance to follow through on those promises now that President BidenJoe BidenCDC working to tighten testing requirement for international travelers On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Manchin seeks 'adjustments' to spending plan MORE has tapped her to fix the situation at the border.
Of course, this task will be exceedingly difficult for Harris, who once compared ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to the Ku Klux Klan while arguing that illegal border crossings should be legal.
This is ridiculous and embarrassing. Kamala Harris browbeats Ronald Vitiello trying to get him to "admit" that ICE is perceived the same as the KKK. pic.twitter.com/kCZl3l2KFs— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) November 16, 2018
"I know what crime looks like. I know what a criminal looks like who's committing a crime. An undocumented immigrant is not a criminal," Harris told KCBS in Los Angeles in 2015. She has not wavered from that position.
Similar to Ocasio-Cortez, Harris can't seem to find the time to fly down to the border as the crisis deepens. It's an odd use of time regarding what should be a top priority.
Because how does one address a crisis without seeing firsthand what the conditions on the ground are like? Would speaking to border officials dealing with this be a good idea? And if Harris is seeking diplomatic solutions here with other Central American countries, when is that trip happening? Because the White House – again – can't provide a definitive date.
How bad are things getting at the border?
CBS News reported Tuesday night that one facility in Donna, Texas, was an “overcrowded purgatory" in holding "17 times" more people than what "the facility was built to hold."
Also, per the Associated Press:
"The Biden administration for the first time Tuesday allowed journalists inside its main border detention facility for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 people, including children and families, were crammed into a space intended for 250 and the youngest were kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping."
Add it all up, and approximately 18,000 migrant children are currently in U.S. custody. This marks the highest number of children in migrant facilities – dubbed "kids in cages" by candidate Biden and "babies in cages" by candidate Harris – since the government began making this data public.
Acknowledging that this is a crisis is the most basic Step 1 in truly addressing it.
But Ocasio-Cortez won't say it is, instead somehow playing the race card from the bottom of the deck by invoking white supremacy.
She also won't visit the border for another viral photoshoot and surely won't broach "concentration camps" again.
It's a Democratic administration in the White House, after all. An administration that can't even bother to assess in person what has become -- by far -- its biggest crisis of its own making.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.