It's been an inexplicable 22 days and counting that Vice President Kamala Harris has not visited the U.S. southern border or detention facilities since President Joe Biden announced she'll be the Administration's point person handling the immigration and humanitarian crisis.
Harris' glaring absence at the border and U.S. detention facilities that house thousands of illegal immigrants and unaccompanied minors is a political misstep. She is squandering a golden opportunity to demonstrate leadership to the American people and convince voters, on both sides of the aisle, she's capable of being president someday.
Instead of taking a backseat from her new role by exploring the root cause of mass migration from Mexico and the northern triangle countries, Harris should be in the driver's seat assembling an all-star team of immigration and homeland security experts, child welfare advocates and humanitarian professionals to address the spiraling crisis.
Harris should then hold a press conference outlining her plan to fix the myriad problems unfolding at the southern border and child detention facilities that Democrats used to call "cages." Next, she should visit the border and detention facilities in Texas, California, Arizona and elsewhere with her team — and press in tow — to document her problem-solving skills to the American people.
That type of hands-on leadership is something she could and should highlight when she runs for president in 2024, if not sooner, should Biden fail to serve out his four-year term.
It goes without saying that one of the basic job requirements to be president of the United States is the ability to lead, manage the government and solve complex problems while keeping America safe. Harris should be illustrating those critical skills right now, given the mushrooming immigration crisis at hand while keeping in mind that our country has never elected a female president.
As such, Harris is missing a ripe opportunity to show voters she has the chops to sit in the big chair someday.
What is she afraid of?
The reality is if the vice president can't handle securing the U.S. border, stemming the massive tide of illegal immigration and drug and human trafficking, then she's unfit to be commander in chief. That's something the GOP will be quick to point out in future political ads, the upcoming midterm elections and 2024 presidential debates.
If Harris has political instincts, she'd visit the border and detention centers immediately to ensure unauthorized immigrants and children in U.S. custody — on the Biden and Harris administration's watch — are being treated properly and humanely. This would impress voters and bolster her image as a "take charge" kind of leader versus someone that turns a blind eye to child exploitation and other reported horrors.
The American people have seen the highly disturbing video of a smuggler dropping two young migrant children over a 14-foot barrier near Santa Teresa, New Mexico, this month, plunging a toddler and another child to the ground. We've seen the heartbreaking video captured by a U.S. Border Patrol officer of the sobbing, terrified 10-year-old boy wandering alone after being abandoned by coyotes while crossing the Rio Grande in Texas. And we've heard enough of the scores of undocumented immigrants being physically and sexually assaulted, or worse, en route to the United States.
But that's not all.
At a stunning news conference last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that an investigation is underway about troubling reports of child abuse at a San Antonio detention facility housing over 1,300 migrant minors. "Earlier today the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, separately received tips that alleged child abuse and neglect at the San Antonio migrant facility," said Abbott.
"Abbott said there were four complaints; claiming child sex abuse at the facility, understaffing, children not eating and the failure to separate children with or without COVID-19," reported NEWS4SA. "In short, this facility is a health and safety nightmare," Abbott stressed.
Harris' failure to see firsthand what's going in this facility and others on U.S. soil damages the Democratic narrative that they are the party of immigrants. Voters will have a hard time believing that whopper come the midterms and beyond when undocumented children are reportedly being abused and neglected on the Biden and Harris administration's watch.
Bottom line: Kamala Harris should be taking charge of the immigration crisis not hiding from it. A failure to rise to the occasion and fix the problems at hand won't impress voters next election cycle.
Adriana Cohen is a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.