Remember when President Joe Biden put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of tackling our immigration problem? We do, too. Remember when absolutely nothing happened, the immigration crisis intensified, and the only time we saw Harris was with child actors talking about space? We do, too.
What we have no recollection of, is Harris having any involvement with border policies; apparently, neither does Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. When questioned during Tuesday’s border hearing, the Secretary admitted Harris has not been “directly” involved in key policy decisions in her almost eight months since being deemed Biden’s head honcho to tackle “root causes” of illegal immigration.
In a back-and-forth with Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mayorkas could not cover for Harris’ inaction. The New York Post transcribed the uncomfortable interaction:
“Do you report to her?” Hawley asked Mayorkas.
“Senator, I report to the vice president and the president, and your question misstates the facts,” the DHS secretary responded. “The president did not appoint the vice president to be the border czar. He asked her to lead the effort in addressing the root causes of irregular migration. Those are two very different things.”
“Ah, I see,” Hawley answered. “So is she working closely with you on that important endeavor? How often do you meet with her?”
“I am certainly in close touch with the vice president,” Mayorkas said.
“How often do you meet on this subject?” Hawley pressed.
“I’ve met with the vice president more than a handful of times,” answered Mayorkas, who was confirmed as DHS secretary in February.
” More than a handful? Well, so what’s that, six or seven times in the last year? ” Hawley said.
“Well, no, first of all, I have not been in office for a year, senator,” said Mayorkas before repeating that he was in “close touch” with Harris.
When Hawley asked Mayorkas if the vice president had traveled to the border with him, the DHS chief recalled a late June visit by Harris to El Paso, Texas. The vice president received criticism for the trip from Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who pointed out at the time that Harris was going nowhere near the epicenter of the ongoing crisis.
“And has she been part of your policies, your decision to end the ‘Remain in Mexico‘ policy, to end the public charge rule, to change the ICE guidance, has she been part of those decisions?” asked Hawley.
“I have not consulted with the vice president directly about those policies,” Mayorkas admitted.
“So what is she doing, exactly?” the Missourian asked. “You said she’s not the border czar. That’s not her role. We’re wrong about that. She’s not doing anything like that. She’s doing something very different, is what your testimony is, but you’re not actually consulting with her on any policy. So what is it that she’s doing, exactly?”
“Senator, as I have repeatedly testified, she is focused on addressing the root causes of irregular migration in the context of the migration channels,” Mayorkas responded.
“How’s that been going?” snarked Hawley.
“That is a — We are advancing considerably, and in fact, I am contributing to that effort ,” said Mayorkas, who cited trips he had made to meet with officials in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and other countries.
“And those efforts are working? That’s been successful?” Hawley asked.
“This is a process that takes time and delivers an enduring solution,” Mayorkas insisted.
The Post notes “The pointed questions about Harris’ role come amid reports that the vice president is both increasingly sidelined by Biden during crucial meetings, and saddled with controversial issues that are eating away at her popularity.”