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Why Mitt Romney says Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip won’t solve border crisis

SHARE Why Mitt Romney says Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip won’t solve border crisis
Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei pose for an official photograph in Guatemala City.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei pose for an official photograph on Monday, June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City.

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

Sen. Mitt Romney doesn’t think Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to Guatemala and Mexico will do much to slow the surge of migrants at the southern border.

Harris spent the past two days in those countries, telling reporters she was there to address the “root causes” of the border crisis, including poverty, hunger and the effects of hurricanes and extreme climate conditions.

“The VP’s campaign to address the ‘root causes’ of illegal immigration won’t solve our current crisis. We can’t eradicate poverty and crime here at home, let alone across all of Latin America. Our free enterprise system will always lure people in search of better opportunities,” Romney posted on Twitter.

Romney said policies that can “realistically” stem illegal immigration include completion of the barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, requiring asylum seekers to apply in their home country or the nearest safe location, and mandatory E-verify, a web-based system that allows businesses to confirm the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S.

In an interview that aired Tuesday, NBC’s Lester Holt pressed Harris on why she hasn’t visited the border given her role on Central American migration.

“I — and I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t — ” Harris said, with a laugh. “I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”

She said she cares “about what’s happening at the border.”

“I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration. There may be some who think that that is not important, but it is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we’d better care about the root causes and address them,” Harris said. “And so that’s what I’m doing.”

In response to Harris’ NBC interview, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, tweeted that “you can’t laugh off or wish away a humanitarian and national security crisis.” He called on the Biden administration to reverse its executive orders that “created this mess.”

Republicans, including members of Utah’s congressional delegation, have criticized Harris and President Joe Biden for not touring the border.

During a trip to the border in March, Sen. Mike Lee said it was “deeply troubling” to see hundreds of people at the border, many from Guatemala and Honduras, who had entrusted their lives to smugglers and drug cartels.

“It’s a crisis brought about by the deliberate, willful nonenforcement of U.S. law, facilitating the exploitation of women and children,” he said “This is a tragedy and it’s got to stop.”

Lee said the problems could be solved by going back to or expanding some now-abandoned Trump-era policies, including the “safe third country” asylum rule and the ability to send unaccompanied minors back to their own countries.

Harris ended her first foreign trip as vice president Tuesday unapologetic for her decision not to visit the border, according to the Associated Press.

“If you want to address the needs of a people, you must meet those people, you must spend time with those people, because the only way you can actually fix the problem is to understand the problem,” she said at a news conference before flying back to Washington.

Earlier she brushed off questions about her decision not to go to the border as part of her work to address the spike in migration, saying that while it was “legitimate” to be concerned about the situation there, it wouldn’t be addressed with a simple visit, the AP reported.

“It must be a priority for us to understand why people leave,” she told the news conference. “I cannot say it enough. Most people don’t want to leave home.”