Arizona's GOP governor says VP Harris, a daughter of immigrants, is the 'worst possible choice' to oversee the border situation

Doug Ducey wearing a suit and tie: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ripped into Biden for tapping Harris to oversee the border situation.
  • Ducey said it shows Biden is not taking the problems at the US-Mexico border seriously.
  • Harris has described the situation as a "huge problem" that won't "be solved overnight."
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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, on Wednesday blasted President Joe Biden's decision to tap Vice President Kamala Harris to oversee the situation at the US-Mexico border.

Ducey told reporters Harris is the "worst possible choice" for this role, per the Arizona Republic, adding that "at no point in her career has [Harris] given any indication that she considers the border a problem or a serious threat."

The Arizona Republican, whose state is often at the center of discussions on immigration, said that if Biden's intent was to show that he's taking the problems at the border seriously then "he's really done the exact opposite."

Though Ducey's comments could be interpreted as suggesting that Harris, a daughter of immigrants, has not taken the issue of immigration and the escalating situation at the border seriously - there's little evidence to support this. Harris during her 2020 campaign issued a plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

During an interview with "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday, Harris also described what's transpiring at the border as a "huge problem."

"It's a huge problem. I'm not going to pretend it's not," Harris said. "Are we looking at overcrowding at the border, particularly of these kids? Yes. Should these kids be in the custody of [Health and Human Services] … instead of the patrol? Yes. Should we be processing these cases faster? Yes."

"This is, however, not going to be solved overnight," Harris added.

-Camilo Montoya-Galvez (@camiloreports) March 24, 2021

Beyond appointing Harris to oversee the response, the administration has also dispatched FEMA to help care for and process migrant children, among other measures.

When asked for a comment on Ducey's criticism, the White House referred Insider to Biden's remarks on selecting Harris for the role.

"I've asked her ... because she's the most qualified person to do it - to lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle and the countries that help ... in stemming the movement of so many folks, stemming the migration to our southern border," Biden said on Wednesday.

Biden is facing bipartisan criticism over the situation at the border

Ducey's remarks echo recent GOP criticism of Biden over a spike in unaccompanied minors arriving at the border.

Republicans have made the case that Biden's more welcoming immigration messaging has induced a "crisis," though monthly migrant apprehensions have steadily risen since April 2020 - when former President Donald Trump was still in office.

Some Democrats, especially progressives, have also criticized Biden over the conditions unaccompanied children are being held in. The president's move to reopen Trump-era facilities to provide more housing to migrant children has been particularly controversial in this regard. The administration has also faced pressure to grant the press more access to facilities, so reporters can better document the conditions migrant children are being held in.

a group of people standing on top of a snow covered street: A Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas, housing migrant children on the weekend of March 20, 2021. A Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas, housing migrant children on the weekend of March 20, 2021.

The White House has rejected describing the issue as a "crisis," instead referring to it as a challenge. The situation has, however, presented a challenge to Biden's pledge to take a more humane approach to immigration than Trump.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated an already convoluted process surrounding housing unaccompanied minors. Officials are struggling to uphold public health guidelines while also providing suitable care for the children, which has led thousands to be housed in jail-like Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities meant for adults.

By law, unaccompanied minors are only meant to stay in CBP facilities for 72 hours before being transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an office of the Department of Health and Human Services, before being sent to an approved sponsor. But the massive influx in recent months has translated into many minors being held beyond that 72-hour legal limit.

Immigration experts who recently spoke to Insider expressed skepticism about describing what's happening at the border as a "crisis."

"We've had higher numbers in the past and every time something like this happens, they call it a crisis or a surge or an influx," Carol Anne Donohoe, managing attorney for Al Otro Lado's family reunification program, said. "How many crises, surges, and influxes do you have before you say this is actually a pattern and we should do something proactively?"

There is generally a rise in migrant arrivals in spring, coinciding with warmer weather. Along these lines, a Washington Post analysis of CBP data from 2012 to 2021 found that there is no "surge." The record number of arrivals at the border can be attributed to a seasonal pattern combined with the fact that the pandemic forced people to hold off trying to come to the US in 2020.

Erin Snodgrass contributed reporting.

Arizona's GOP governor says VP Harris, a daughter of immigrants, is the 'worst possible choice' to oversee the border situation