Kamala Harris is 'worst possible choice' to oversee border migrant crisis, Arizona gov says after Biden appoints her
VICE President Kamala Harris is the "worst possible choice" to lead the White House in tackling migration at the US-Mexico border, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said.
"At no point in her career has [Harris] given any indication that she considers the border a problem or a serious threat," Ducey told reporters in Tucson on Wednesday.
The governor's comments came just hours after Biden designated Harris to oversee the mounting crisis at the Southern border, lauding her as the "most qualified" person for the job.
However, Ducey disagreed, insisting Biden has now "trivialized the issue by putting someone in charge who just flat out doesn't care."
"If President Biden’s intent was to show that he’s taking this issue seriously, he’s really done the exact opposite," Ducey added.
Earlier this week, Harris was widely criticized when she burst out into laughter when asked by a reporter if she's planning on visiting the border.
"Not today," she joked, before adding: "But I have before, and I'm sure I will again."
For weeks, Republicans have been criticizing the White House's handling of immigration issues, compounded by a surge of arrivals at the US-Mexico border in quantities not seen in over two decades.
Apprehensions about immigration began under former President Donald Trump early last year, however they've intensified since Biden took office after he began reversing a number of Trump's more aggressive policies.
Among the newly elected president's most vocal critics is Ducey, who on Friday ripped Biden as "totally divorced from reality" during a visit to the border.
"I've been governor under three presidents, and this is by far the worst situation we've seen," Ducey said in front of the border wall in Douglas.
"Washington has never been more out of touch, and it starts at the top."
The Arizona governor reprised that theme on Wednesday, branding Harris as being incompetent and uninterested in border security, AZ Central reported.
If Biden wanted to effectively address the situation at the border, Ducey argued he should've chosen someone with "more experience or some passion."
Harris, a daughter of immigrants and the former California Attorney General, has previously spoken passionately about the subject of migration and border security.
While acknowledging the situation is a "huge problem", she has insisted that enforcing the law and humanely addressing "the root causes that cause people to make the trek" are not mutually exclusive.
As part of her new role under Biden, Harris will be entrusted with stemming migration at the Southern border.
She will also work to make it safer for migrants to apply for asylum and other legal pathways in their home nations, instead of embarking on dangerous and long treks to the US.
Announcing the appointment, Biden said: "I asked her, the VP, today, because she's the most qualified person to do it, to lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle, and the countries that can help, need help in stemming the movement of so many folks, stemming the migration to our southern border.
"It's not her full responsibility and job, but she's leading the effort, because I think the best thing to do is put someone who, when he or she speaks, they don't have to wonder about — is that where the president is?
"As she speaks, she speaks for me, doesn't have to check with me, she knows what she's doing —and I hope we can move this along," he said.
In response, Harris thanked Biden for "having the confidence in me" to tackle an issue that "is no question … a challenging situation."
"While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law and that we also – because we can chew gum and walk at the same time – must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek, as the President has described, to come here," she said.
During her own presidential run, Harris said she was seeking to expand the use of deferred action immigration programs and use executive actions to remove the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.
In an interview earlier on Wednesday, Harris told CBS News that she was frustrated by the situation at the border.
"Look, we've been in office less than 100 days," she said. "We are addressing it. We are dealing with it, but it's going to take some time, and are we frustrated? Are you frustrated? Yes, we are."
Harris' designation as the White House's point person on immigration came after Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) revealed agents had made more than 100,000 apprehensions in February alone – a 28 percent surge on the previous month.
Most were single adult migrants who were expelled under a Trump-era public health order enacted at the beginning of the pandemic, officials said.
Nearly 9,500 unaccompanied children entered US border custody that same month, setting a new record.
Currently registering an average of 530 encounters per day this month, border officials are on track to take in 16,000 unaccompanied children in March – an all-time record high.
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