The National Sheriffs’ Association called Thursday for Vice President Kamala Harris to spend time with local residents and law enforcement officers contending with unsafe conditions at the southern border during her upcoming visit to El Paso, Texas.
“We respectfully ask, please talk to residents terrorized by human traffickers and cartel members,” NSA President Vernon Stanforth said in a statement. “Talk to local sheriffs who retrieve the dead bodies of migrants from the river bottoms and the desolate deserts. Please listen to the young women being trafficked and assaulted by the criminal cartels and smugglers and act immediately with us to fix our border challenges.”
“We hear a lot of talk from Washington politicians, Madam Vice President, please roll up your shirtsleeves, work with us,” Stanforth added. “Together we will make our border safe and America secure.”
Harris will make the trip following weeks of criticism from Republican lawmakers who accused her of neglecting the situation despite her role heading up the White House’s response to the border crisis. GOP leaders argue the Biden administration’s rollback of Trump-era immigration policies allowed cartels to exploit the border, leading to increased drug smuggling and human trafficking.
The vice president and her aides have argued that her efforts are focused on addressing the root causes of migration from Mexico and the “Northern Triangle” nations of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Harris met with officials in Mexico and Guatemala earlier this month in her first foreign trip since taking office.
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Harris’ trip was “part of the coordinated effort between her office, her work, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, to continue to address the root causes and work in coordination to get the situation under control.”
Customs and Border Protection encountered more than 180,000 migrants attempting to cross the border in May alone, up from roughly 23,000 encounters in the same month one year earlier. Border crossings have reached a 10-year high so far this year.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, both Republicans, asked other governors earlier this month to send “all available law enforcement resources” to assist border security efforts. So far, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts have contributed resources.
Abbott also established a border security task force and unveiled plans to build a border wall, which will be partially funded by public donations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.