Republican officials and right-wing media stars have lobbed withering and unrelenting criticism at Vice President Kamala Harris for not visiting the southern U.S. border after President Joe Biden tapped her to lead up the administration’s response to the migrant crisis.
However, now that she announced that she plans to go to the border on Friday, many of those same conservatives are angry over her visit, calling it a “complete mistake” and complaining that she is not going to where they believe the “height of the problem” exists.
Weeks after her two-day trip to Guatemala and Mexico to explore the “root causes” of the migration problem only amplified the criticism of her refusal to visit the border—largely due to her dismissive “I haven’t visited Europe” remarks—the veep’s office confirmed Harris will finally head to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Earlier this year, the President asked the Vice President to oversee our diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” spokesperson Symone Sanders said. “As a part of this ongoing work, the Vice President traveled to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month and will travel to El Paso on Friday.”
Literally minutes after Sanders’ confirmation, former president Donald Trump, who’d already announced a border trip next week with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, released a statement claiming the vice president’s visit was because of him.
“After months of ignoring the crisis at the Southern Border, it is great that we got Kamala Harris to finally go and see the tremendous destruction and death that they've created—a direct result of Biden ending my very tough but fair Border policies,” the disgraced ex-president blared. “Harris and Biden were given the strongest Border in American history. And now, it is by far the worst in American history. If Governor Abbott and I weren’t going there next week, she would have never gone!”
That sentiment was repeated on Fox News, which has spent the past couple of months blasting Harris for not going to the border while constantly running on-air graphics counting down the number of days without a Harris border visit.
“It’s about time she’s going. We know why this is happening now,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha said on Wednesday’s broadcast of Outnumbered. “Optics means a lot in this business and President Trump is set to go to the border next week. So Team Biden wasn’t about to allow itself to be embarrassed any further. If Trump is at the border, you can be sure the media would have followed him.”
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, meanwhile, changed course from his months-long grilling of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki over the vice president’s non-presence at the border, wondering on Wednesday why Harris felt the need to go now.
“Why is the vice president visiting the border this week when earlier this month she dismissed a trip like that, saying it would be a grand gesture?” Doocy asked, prompting Psaki to note that Harris also said at the time she’d be open to a border trip at an appropriate time.
Some Republican lawmakers, however, were even more blatant in playing “heads I win, tails you lose” over the announced trip.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who earlier this month fumed that his constituents were upset that “Kamala Harris hasn't even visited the border,” took to Twitter to slam the veep for her planned visit. “Complete mistake—Kamala Harris will find some way to make the crisis worse,” he wrote.
And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has repeatedly demanded Harris make a border trip, complained in a lengthy Fox News interview about Harris choosing to go to the border city El Paso, asserting that this was the wrong part of the border and away from the “epicenter” of the crisis.
“El Paso is a lovely city. Beautiful place in Texas. It is also not—does not happen to be the locus of the crisis... So she is going where the height of the problem isn’t,” Cruz exclaimed, adding that Harris wants to avoid cameras seeing “kids in cages.”
Fox News anchor John Roberts, to his credit, pointed out that many Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have also gone down to El Paso to check out the border crisis.
Days after ripping the vice president on Fox News for staying away from the border, MAGA Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) dismissively waved off the trip he’d long demanded.
“It’s not enough to go to the border. We need action… The country is ablaze,” he told Fox News reporter Chad Pergram after the announcement.