Video of Vice President Kamala Harris laughing as she answered a question about the illegal immigration crisis ignited a firestorm of criticism on Monday, as the administration continued to struggle with its messaging amid the border surge.
Harris fielded the question while speaking with journalists outside Air Force Two in Florida, where she was promoting the latest package containing COVID-19 relief as part of a nationwide blitz.
Asked if she had "plans to visit" the southern border area, Harris paused, then responded "Not today" and started laughing.
"I have before and I'm sure I will again," she added.
A video of the exchange quickly spread on social media, sparking fury from Republicans who suggested the vice president was not treating the border situation with the gravity it deserves.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was one of Harris' sharpest critics.
"While VP Harris laughs off a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, Republicans are focused on securing the border and responding to the needs of our Border Patrol agents on the front lines," he tweeted.
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., also slammed Harris.
"First, the Biden Administration refused to admit the situation at the border is a crisis, NOW Kamala Harris thinks this is a laughing matter," Lesko wrote. "It isn't a laughing matter for the border communities being deluged by illegal immigrants."
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., called Harris’ remarks "completely divorced from reality."
"It’s outrageous to see the flippant disregard for American lives and livelihoods that are negatively impacted by the surge of illegal aliens at our border," he added.
Biden has been bombarded with criticism over the flood of migrants after immigration policies from former President Donald Trump were rolled back with executive orders from the new administration.
According to former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan, the Biden administration has dismantled all the effective tools, policies, and authorities that could have prevented the crisis.
"They’ve really signaled to the cartels and the migrants themselves that the borders are open," he said. "We’re seeing unprecedented numbers – last week we saw, we believe a number that exceeded 6,000 in a single day. So it’s absolutely a crisis in southwest border."
The administration has also come under fire from journalists for its restrictive approach to media access at the border.
"I’m a photojournalist. Why is the administration banning me from border facilities?" John Moore tweeted Monday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki last week told CNN that media tours of the facilities holding children at the border weren’t permitted due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But, she told the news outlet, the administration remains "committed to transparency, and we're considering potential options, and we hope to have an update on that soon."
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