“Somebody needs to listen to our local communities,” he added. “With all due respect, just coming and doing a staged visit is not enough. They have to understand.”
The comments from the congressman, whose district at the southern tip of Texas borders Mexico, come as Harris concludes her first overseas trip since assuming office: a two-nation visit to Guatemala and Mexico focused on addressing the root causes of increase in migrants.
The vice president’s public remarks while traveling have provoked anger from progressive Democrats, who denounced Harris’ message to migrants this week as unduly harsh. “Do not come. Do not come,” Harris said at a news conference in Guatemala City on Monday.
Meanwhile, Republicans have attacked Harris over an interview with NBC News that aired on Tuesday, during which she sidestepped questions about having not yet visited the southern border. “I haven’t been to Europe. … I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border,” she said at one point in the exchange.
But Cuellar on Thursday praised the vice president’s posture on the trip, offering a respite from the more moderate corner of her party as the White House contends with the political fallout from Harris’ remarks.
“I want to thank the vice president for having a clear message: ‘Don’t come,’” Cuellar said. “But we need to couple that with some action and some repercussions.”