U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas have the same suggestion for Vice President Kamala Harris, who plans to visit El Paso: Go to the Rio Grande Valley instead.
“Where the crisis is most acute is in the Rio Grande Valley, which is 800 miles away from El Paso. To put that in perspective, Chicago, Illinois, is closer to Washington than McAllen is to El Paso,” Cruz, a Texas Republican, told the Star-Telegram.
John Cornyn, also a Texas Republican, had similar advice.
“My recommendation is that she go to the, to ground zero, which is the Rio Grande Valley. El Paso is a much different situation than the Valley. This Valley is really at the eye of the storm,” Cornyn said.
However, in the past Republicans have used El Paso as an example of the border crisis.
In March, KDBC TV in El Paso reported that House Republicans toured immigration facilities there and at the nearby border, and called for President Joe Biden to visit the area to see the “humanitarian crisis.”
Harris plans to visit El Paso on Friday with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. This move came after Harris faced sharp criticism from Republicans who claimed she was neglecting her duties as Biden’s border diplomat by not visiting the border.
Harris and her team countered the criticism by pointing to her visits to Mexico and Guatemala, saying she was more focused on addressing the causes of southern border migration than appearing at the border.
“She’s made a number of announcements about how to address root causes that she was going to assess with the Department of Homeland Security and with the administration when it was the appropriate time to go,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday. “And I will note that we’re at this point, in part, because we’ve made a great deal of progress,”
Now that she is going, Cruz and Cornyn took issue with her choice of destination.
“Well, it’s a good start but obviously the purpose is not for a photo op it’s to actually listen and learn from the people who live there and work there,” Cornyn said.
The Rio Grande Valley and El Paso are some of the busiest spots for border crossing. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports there were 271,927 land border encounters in the Rio Grande Valley region from October 2020 through May and 113,824 in the El Paso region, which covers New Mexico.