US Vice-President Kamala Harris is “the worst possible choice” to lead the White House effort to tackle the migration crisis at the US-Mexico border, Arizona’s governor said after her appointment by President Joe Biden this week.
“At no point in her career has Harris given any indication that she considers the border a problem or a serious threat,” governor Doug Ducey told reporters Wednesday in Tucson, The Arizona Republic reported.
“If President Biden’s intent was to show that he’s taking this issue seriously, he’s really done the exact opposite,” the governor said, adding that the president had “completely trivialised the issue by putting someone in charge who flat out just doesn’t care”.
His comments came hours after Biden tapped Harris to take charge of the administration’s talks with Mexico and Central American countries about slowing the tide of illegal immigrants crossing the US border.
Calling Harris the “most qualified person” to head up the effort amid a surge in arrivals, Biden told reporters that he has asked her to “to lead our efforts with Mexico in stemming migration”.
During a visit to the border last week, Ducey slammed the president as “totally divorced from the reality on the ground.”
“I’ve been governor under three presidents, and this is by far the worst situation we’ve seen,” Ducey said at the border wall in Douglas, Arizona. “Washington has never been more out of touch, and it starts at the top.”
On Wednesday, he described Harris as incompetent and uninterested in border security, arguing that if Biden actually wanted to solve problems at the border, he should have chosen someone with more “experience or some passion”.
Harris was criticised earlier this week after she laughed when asked by a reporter if she would be visiting the border, reports the New York Post.
“Not today,” said Harris, with a laugh. “But I have before, and I’m sure I will again.”
The Biden administration has faced fierce criticism for its response to the crisis, which has seen migrants – including thousands of unaccompanied children – flock to the border at levels unseen in 20 years, since Biden began rolling back Trump-era immigration restrictions.
Harris, a former attorney-general of California and the daughter of immigrants, has spoken previously about migration and border security.
While acknowledging that the situation is a “huge problem”, Harris also has insisted that enforcing the law and humanely addressing “the root causes that cause people to make the trek” were not mutually exclusive.
“This is, however, not going to be solved overnight,” she told CBS.