As Karen pointed out earlier, the border encounter numbers for May were released yesterday and they were up slightly from the already high numbers in April. Rep. Henry Cuellar, the moderate Democrat whose district is along the border, has been saying for a while that President Biden and VP Harris need to visit the border. Today, in light of the newly released numbers, Cuellar renewed those calls on MSNBC:
Cuellar (D-Texas) — a centrist within his party who is outspoken on issues related to immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border — told MSNBC that Biden and Harris should “come in and, with all due respect, not do a staged visit.”
Instead, they should “sit down” with local law enforcement, elected officials and business leaders to better understand the influx of Central American migrants seeking to enter the U.S. through Mexico, Cuellar said.
“Somebody needs to listen to our local communities,” he added. “With all due respect, just coming and doing a staged visit is not enough. They have to understand.”
Here’s the full interview cued up to his call for Biden and Harris to visit the border. As you’ll see if you keep watching, Cuellar actually praised Harris’ message in Guatemala earlier this week (“Do not come”) a message that was criticized by those on the far left as too harsh.
Clearly what Biden and Harris have been doing isn’t working. The numbers speak for themselves. With four months left to go in this fiscal year we are on track to see a number of apprehensions this year that will be in the top 10 of all years since 1960. In fact, there’s still a good chance this year could be among the top 5 depending how steeply the numbers drop off this summer.
Separately, NBC News published a report today in which Border Patrol agents make clear they are spending a tremendous percentage of their total resources dealing with the humanitarian crisis along the border caused by the sheer number of people trying to get across. That effort to just keep people from dying in the attempt means there are frequently gaps in CBP’s ability to stop people from crossing illegally. CBP estimates as many as 20,000 people have come through the border this year and some of those people are smugglers bringing meth, fentanyl and cocaine to cities across the US. As the reporter sums up, “What crosses the border doesn’t stop at the border.”
This clip gives a glimpse of the reality that I think Rep. Cuellar wants President Biden and VP Harris to confront, minus the cameras and the speeches. It’s remarkable in light of the historic pressure CBP is facing that the President has been able to avoid going to see the problem for this long.
Finally, this is pure speculation on my part but my guess is the communications advisers at the White House are telling Biden not to show up at the border until they have some good news to report. So maybe once the numbers start dropping this summer (as they always do when it gets hot) Biden will show up to, in effect, take credit for the weather. It’s hard to believe he could get through a record year of border apprehensions without ever going down to at least make it look like he’s engaged in the problem.