EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Vice President Kamala Harris met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday to address bilateral cooperation at the U.S.-Mexico border to quell the ongoing immigration crisis.
“The United States will continue to enforce our laws and borders,” Harris said in a news conference.
Despite the Biden administration’s effort to take a multi-prong approach to immigration reform, Republicans are not convinced the efforts are adequate.
KTSM 9 News spoke with Paris Dennard, the GOP national spokesperson, about Harris’ visit to Mexico and what it means for Americans in the Borderland.
Dennard says that the GOP believes Harris should have visited the Borderland before going abroad.
“There’ve been Republicans at the border, there’ve been Democrats at the border — Henry Cuellar is one of them, who’s a Democrat — and a whole lot of Republicans from the House and Senate,” Dennard says.
“But what we have not seen is the person who’s been put in charge of this border crisis go and visit the border,” he adds.
Addressing the root causes of migration from Central America was one of myriad agenda items during Harris’ visit to Mexico.
During the meeting, Harris and AMLO discussed high-level economic opportunities, cabinet-level security, ways to bolster labor cooperation, attracting investments to southern Mexico, operations to combat human smuggling and trafficking, and a partnership to resolve disappearances in Mexico.
The U.S. and Mexico signed a memorandum of understanding that creates a strategic partnership to confront insufficient economic opportunities in the Northern Triangle. Both governments agreed to cultivate agricultural development, as well as empower youth programs in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
KTSM 9 News spoke with White House Immigration Adviser Vedant Patel last week about the Administration’s efforts.
“I think our message is we want to take steps to instill a fair and orderly immigration system and that’s what you’re going to see this administration do. We understand that we’re a nation of immigrants, but we’re also a nation that’s going to enforce our immigration laws,” Patel said.
“And that’s going to be our vision when it comes to immigration reform,” he added.
Still, the GOP remains unconvinced by the Biden administration’s efforts.
“It’s multifaceted,” says Dennard, “it’s a national security problem, it’s a health problem — and it’s something that they have to take seriously.”
The White House insists Harris’ visit to Guatemala and Mexico this week are part of immigration reform efforts that started on Inauguration Day.
“We began to wind down the MPP program, we relaunched the Central American minors program, and we’ve taken additional steps to slowly get back our asylum process quota to what it once was,” Patel said. “The Administration’s cornerstone will be a fair and orderly immigration system.”
Despite the visit, the GOP says Harris should be meeting with constituents and law enforcement.
“I would hope that she would meet with Border Patrol and Customs. I hope that she would meet with the parents and families that have been impacted by the problem and the crisis of illegal immigration,” says Dennard.
That includes Borderland residents.
“Your voices matter, your experiences matter, and the things you’re dealing with because of illegal immigration matters,” said Dennard.
Regardless of politics, Harris reiterated the country’s current stance on illegal immigration at the end of her Mexico visit.
“If you come to our border,” she said, “you will be turned back.”