More than three months after she was appointed Border Czar, and a week after Donald Trump announced plans to come to the Texas border, Vice President Kamala Harris is finally coming to the border herself. Harris is visiting El Paso today, along with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Harris' trek to Texas comes after months of pressure from Texas leaders of both parties, even as she recently laughed off a question from NBC News Anchor Lester Holt about her lack of a border visit by saying she hasn't "visited Europe either."
While most Texas leaders have expressed appreciation for Harris' decision to come to the border, they're also dubious of her trip. Many have noted she's visiting El Paso and not the Rio Grande Valley sector, which has been ground zero for the surge in illegal immigrants and drugs pouring across the border in recent months. Sen. Ted Cruz lambasted Harris for not visiting tent cities in South Texas, while Sen. John Cornyn called her visit "100 days late and a thousand miles short."
Congressman Tony Gonzalez (R), who represents a large border district, also questioned why Harris was avoiding the areas most affected by the crisis. "You have to understand that all parts of the border are different," Gonzalez told Fox News. "Her showing up and taking a photo op, then getting back on a plane as fast as she can, is disrespectful."
Former Congressman John Hostettler, now Vice President of Federal Affairs for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, believes Harris won't get an accurate picture of the border crisis with this trip. "El Paso has had an increase in activity, but it's not feeling the brunt of this crisis the way the Rio Grande Valley and especially the Del Rio sector is," he tells KTRH. Hostettler recently visited the Del Rio sector himself for a town meeting with people who live there, and thinks Harris would benefit from a similar event.
Ultimately, Hostettler doesn't think this trip by Harris will actually accomplish much. "Change has got to come as a result of putting policy in place that works, but this president and vice president have been opposing (effective policy)," he says. "And without some real solid improvement in the border policy, I don't see much changing, even with a border visit."