Vice President Kamala Harris went to El Paso, Texas, Friday to see firsthand the situation at the southern border.
It was her first trip there since being put in charge of the administration’s handling of the border situation, and most Republicans believe it was long overdue.
For months now, Republicans in Congress – including members of the Oklahoma delegation – have been blasting the Biden administration for implementing immigration and border control policies that they say essentially rolls out the welcome mat for immigrants to enter illegally.
“March was the highest number we’ve had interdicted at our border in 20 years,” said Senator James Lankford, (R) OK. “It was beaten by April; it was beaten by May.”
Sen. Lankford said the surge in crossings at the US-Mexico border is clearly tied to the change in administrations and, in an interview Thursday, said the administration needs to acknowledge that and take action.
“I’m glad the Vice President is going to the border,” said Lankford. “It’s helpful to be able to get context, to be able to talk to border patrol officials.”
Lankford has done that himself a couple of times this year. He thinks the Vice President should have gone farther south, around McAllen, for a more accurate picture of the problem, but said the key is listening to what people there have to say.
“And be able to hear firsthand, ‘Here’s the problem,’ and to be able to hear, ‘this all changed in January, this was not like this a year ago, this was not like this two years ago’,” Lankford said.
Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month to try to better understand and address the root causes of the increase in migration. The Biden administration said former President Trump's policies were too harsh, but Lankford said, aside from a short period when children were separated from their parents, the Trump administration had it right.
“There were a lot of policy areas that were just straightforward policy areas that actually made a real difference,” said Lankford.
Senator Lankford said he realizes this trip by the Vice President is, to some extent, just a photo op, but said it is also a real opportunity for this administration to understand that their policies have real consequences.