Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday chided Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s response to the news that at least 51 migrants had died after being left in an abandoned semitruck in San Antonio, Texas this week.
“How the governor of that state responded really highlights part of the problem because his response when there are 50 dead bodies in his state is to go straight to politics,” Harris said in an interview with NPR. “Instead of dealing with the realities of the issue.”
Officials are still investigating what appears to be one of the deadliest human smuggling cases in modern U.S. history. Republicans were quick to blame the horrific incident on the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
“These deaths are on Biden,” tweeted Abbott Monday night. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
Republicans blame the surge of migrants at the southern border this year and Monday’s deadly incident on what they argue are “open border policies” after the White House reversed Trump-era immigration regulations.
Harris argued the administration is taking “seriously“ the issue of human smuggling, which has increased in recent years as smugglers look to turn a profit on one of the most contested issues in the U.S.
There have been over 2,000 arrests just in the last three months. I think there are at least eight indictments that have happened,” she said. “We need to deal with that, right, in terms of the consequences of criminal behavior that results in death.”
While Republicans blame the White House for the nation’s immigration woes, Harris said the blame sat on the shoulders of the Trump administration.
“We also need to take seriously the fact that we have a broken immigration system that was decimated by the last administration,” she continued. “And we’ve been trying, and we are on the path doing it, to fix that broken system.”
Harris was deemed the “border czar” by Biden upon entering office.
However, according to reports earlier this year, the second in command was frustrated with being handed this title and argued her assignment related to addressing issues in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which have led to the influx of migrants, and not necessarily U.S. immigration policies.
Harris continues to face steep criticism from Republicans over her role as border czar.
The victims in Monday’s tragic events included at least 22 migrants from Mexico, seven from Guatemala and two from Honduras.