EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, on Thursday will introduce a bill that would bar taxpayer money from being used for the travel expenses of Vice President Kamala Harris until she visits the southern border and issues a report on how to solve the crisis there.
“We have an absolute crisis at the border, and Vice President Harris was appointed to lead the administration’s efforts on the border crisis, but it’s been 56 days, and in that time she hasn’t been to the border once,” Hinson told Fox News in an interview Wednesday. “She hasn’t held a news conference on the administration’s efforts for a plan, and I think it’s time she does that.”
The See The Crisis Act would prohibit federal funds from being used to pay travel expenses for the vice president, including Air Force Two and security details for any travel outside the U.S., until she has visited the border to review the crisis and submitted a report to Congress.
That report would include all of the vice president’s meetings with agencies at the border, plans to deal with the crisis and the amount of foreign aid to be given to Northern Triangle countries to respond to the crisis.
President Biden appointed Harris in March to lead diplomatic talks with Mexico and Northern Triangle countries as part of the effort to solve the “root causes” of the crisis that has seen a historic number of migrants surge to the border in recent months.
“I’m thinking of corruption, violence and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance,” Harris said earlier this month as she listed root causes.
While the White House has emphasized that Harris’ job is not the border per se, but rather the diplomatic outreach to those countries, former Trump officials and Republicans have pushed back, saying that in order to deal with root causes, it is important she visit the border.
They have accused her of being “missing” at the border while she takes trips to bakeries in Chicago and elsewhere instead. Harris has so far met virtually with leaders of Mexico and Guatemala and is expected to visit those countries next month.
Meanwhile, 178,000 migrants were encountered in April alone as the administration has been scrambling to deal with the influx of unaccompanied children in particular.
“She’s putting yarn shops and bakeries before the border,” Hinson said of Harris. “She’s Zoomed with the Mexican president, but I think that sends the absolute wrong message to the men and women that are putting their lives on the line every day, not to mention the men and women and families that live in these communities along the border and the communities of Iowa — every state is a border state.”
The criticism of Harris comes as part of the broader criticism of the administration, with both Biden and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas coming under fire for their roles in the crisis.
The administration has blamed not only root causes for the crisis but also the Trump administration’s alleged lack of preparedness for a surge in migrants. Critics have instead pointed to the rollback of Trump-era policies, like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), border wall construction and increased interior enforcement.
Hinson said border officials have been unable to tell her how many migrants are coming to her district. She says that if Harris visits the border, “she’d hear exactly what I heard from Customs and Border Protection, which is that they need resources, they need policies to close the spigot of illegal immigration that’s happening at the border.”
As the country faces a number of issues, Hinson said the border crisis is one of the top issues for Iowans back home.
“People are concerned,” she said. “We have thousands of Iowa children waiting for homes, and they should be the priority, and instead the administration has turned a blind eye, encouraged and incentivized illegal immigration at a time when we need to be focused on taking care of our people, and I think that’s what Iowans see and hear and know — so they’ve given me a clear directive to hold the administration accountable, and that’s what I’m doing.”