GOP senator Bill Hagerty on Friday blasted President Biden for turning the border ‘into a turnstile’, and said Kamala Harris‘ visit to El Paso only happened because the administration was faced with a ‘backlash of public opinion’.
Hagerty’s comments came on the same day Harris was visiting the southern border in El Paso for the first time after immense pressure from Republican lawmakers to do so.
‘What they’re doing is listening to the polls and the polls are hammering them,’ Hagerty said of the Biden administration during an interview on Fox News on Friday.
Hagerty accused the administration of being pulled further towards the left.
Kamala Harris was visiting the southern border in El Paso for the first time after immense pressure from Republican lawmakers to do so
She drew criticism from GOP senator Bill Hagerty, who ripped VP Kamala Harris and Joe Biden’s administration on Friday, claiming their policies are turning the border ‘into a turnstile’
‘I do think the Biden administration, for all the left-wing tendencies and the fact they’re allowing the left-wing of the party to pull them in a violently left-wing direction,’ Hagerty said.
‘They’re facing the reality of the American public and American sentiment, and it is so strong against the collapse of the border that they have precipitated, so that I think this indicates to me they are being faced with the inevitable backlash of public opinion and so it’s pushing them in the direction where they should address it,’ he continued.
Hagerty visited the Guatemala and Mexico in early May, before Harris visited the region. He pointed to the Biden administration’s comments as a reason for the crisis at the border.
He said, ‘When they say during the campaign we’re going to treat you better if you get here, they start telling people we’re going to reunite families, take care of unaccompanied children, the coyotes turn around and begin to recruit children.’
Republicans accused Harris of only visiting the border as a ‘pit stop’ en route to her California home and waiting until 93 days after President Biden tasked her with tackling the crisis
Harris, 56, first blamed the Trump administration for the situation at the border an hour before saying that progress would mean removing the ‘rhetoric and finger pointing’ from debate
Harris is seen visiting the Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas on Friday
Hagerty added, ‘It’s these false promises that are coming from the Biden administration that are the immediate and direct precipitant of the crisis at the border.’
The senator also criticized Harris for not taking a broader approach in her trip to the border.
‘The biggest tragedy that wasn’t discussed by Harris that deserves a tremendous amount of focus are the direct concerns shared with me in Mexico by their foreign minister about the increased activity of China and the drug cartels active there in Mexico and the increased shipments of precursors to fentanyl and fentanyl itself,’ Hagerty said.
Hagerty continued to criticize the administration for their push to ‘accelerate processing’ and turn the border ‘into a turnstile.’
‘They are creating the means by which to accelerate the illegal immigration of people from Central and South America and Mexico,’ Hagerty said.
Sen. Hagerty meets with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo in May
Sen. Bill Hagerty met with top officials in both Mexico and Guatemala at the time
‘That underscores the true strategy is not border security, it is accelerated processing of illegal immigrants at the border.’
Hagerty also joined the chorus of critics who claimed Harris didn’t actually get close to where the crisis was unfolding.
‘They’re 1,000 miles away from where the most critical aspects of the border crisis are unfolding. If you think about it, Chicago is closer to Washington D.C. than El Paso is to where the border crisis is occurring,’ Hagerty said.
‘So we get back to whether this is a serious attempt to address border security or whether this is window dressing around what is in effect a real strategy to accelerate processing of illegal immigrants.’
Republicans accused Harris of only visiting the border as a ‘pit stop’ en route to her California home and waiting until 93 days after President Biden tasked her with tackling the crisis.
After arriving at El Paso airport she was asked why she chose now to visit and said: ‘Well, it’s not my first trip. I’ve come to the border many times.
‘I said back in March I was going to come to the border so this is not a new plan’.
Harris, 56, first blamed the Trump administration for the situation at the border an hour before saying that progress would mean removing the ‘rhetoric and finger pointing’ from debate.
Her first stop was a processing center where she met migrant girls aged nine to 15, who drew pictures for her and described their hopes for the future.
She also spoke to border guards who have been dealing with a record-breaking surge in illegal crossings since the start of the Biden administration.
She made an unannounced visit to a border crossing before meeting faith groups and organizations that run shelters.
At the end of her visit, she reflected on her conversation with girls, saying they reminded her to take the politics out of the crisis.
‘We’re talking about the children, we’re talking about families, we’re talking about suffering, and our approach has to be thoughtful and effective,’ she said.
‘And we can take all of these perspectives into account and have meaningful good public policy if we just stop the rhetoric and the finger pointing and do what we need to do.’
The answer, she added, lay in Congress coming together to pass immigration reform.
Agents in the Rio Grande Valley apprehended 271,927 people, compared to 113,824 in El Paso, in May, the data says
Harris visited the El Paso processing center during her border trip. According to Border Patrol statistics, the Rio Grande Valley has seen nearly two-and-a-half times more illegal crossings than in El Paso
This chart shows how 2021 border crossings – pictured in blue – rocketed on crossings made in 2020, represented by the brown line (2018 is pictured in gray, with 2019 in orange)
Biden’s first few months in office have seen record numbers of migrants attempting to cross the border, with more than 180,000 encounters taking place on the Mexican border in May.
Even before she left Harris faced criticism for her destination. Republicans said she should have gone to the Rio Grande Valley, which is where a large majority of the crossings take place. She is also avoiding the migrant tent city at Fort Bliss, where children have to be monitored for self-harm, panic attacks and escape attempts.
Former Department of Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf said: ‘While it’s certainly positive that she is taking this step, I am disappointed that she is not going to the Rio Grande Valley – the very epicenter of this crisis.
‘Instead, she is going to El Paso, a metropolitan area 800-1,000 miles away from the RGV. Hopefully, Harris’ trip will be a working visit, not just border security tourism.’
According to Border Patrol statistics, the Rio Grande Valley has seen nearly two-and-a-half times more illegal crossings than in El Paso.
Agents in the Rio Grande Valley apprehended 271,927 people, compared to 113,824 in El Paso, in May, the data say.