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CEDAR RAPIDS — Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Texas was a victory “for the people of this country who’ve been dealing with an unsafe and unsecure situation at the border,” Rep. Ashley Hinson said Friday.
The Friday visit was long overdue, according to the 1st District congresswoman, who has been calling on the vice president to get a firsthand view of the situation created by the administration’s immigration policies.
“Harris was named the border czar almost 100 days ago, and it’s taken her that long to get to the southern border,” the Marion Republican told reporters.
In May, Hinson introduced legislation in the Democratic-controlled House to block Harris from using taxpayer dollars to travel internationally before seeing the border crisis firsthand. She called it “unacceptable” that after nearly two months as Biden’s point person on immigration, Harris had not visited the border to see the situation and hear from Customs and Border Protection personnel on the surge in illegal immigration and trafficking in humans and drugs.
“She was visiting yarn shops and bakeries instead of listening to the folks at the Customs and Border Protection,” Hinson said. “She laughed when she was asked about her intentions to visit the border. She’s characterized this as a grand gesture, a photo opp. But I hope she’s taking it as seriously as Iowa families are taking it because I’m hearing about it on the road.”
For her part, Harris said immigration “cannot be reduced to a political issue” after touring a Customs and Border Protection processing center in El Paso. “We’re talking about children, we’re talking about families, we’re talking about suffering. And our approach has to be thoughtful and effective.”
Hinson recently concluded a 20-county tour of the 1st District that included a meeting in Cedar Rapids with people who immigrated legally. They told her about navigating the immigration process and problems they and their children face obtaining employment because of a green card backlog.
Much of the discussion centered on challenges they feel in employment because of a green card backlog as well as fear of deportation “as they see people coming across the border illegally and being given a pat,” she said.
“So I have a pretty good to-do list there based on those discussions,” she said.
Based on her April visit to the border, Hinson said she knows what Harris will see.
“It’s overwhelmed law enforcement. They’re struggling to keep up with coyotes, the drug smugglers, the cartels,” Hinson said.
Harris likely heard from communities “crying out for help because they need more body bags for all the migrants who are dying trying to cross the border. She’s going to see and hear about the shocking number of drugs coming across. Fentanyl seizures are up 233 percent this year.”
“ … I hope she hears these things and learns from this and is ready to come and get something done to fix this problem that they have created,” Hinson said.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.