Congresswoman Harshbarger

U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-1st, speaks to a constituent before addressing the East Tennessee Republican Club meeting at the Carnegie Hotel on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-1st, told area Republicans Monday there is “a crisis like you’ve never seen” at this nation’s border with Mexico.

The Kingsport congresswoman, who toured the border in Texas earlier this year, said she felt “righteous anger” after seeing what was happening to the children there.

“Those children don’t want to be there,” Harshbarger told East Tennessee Republican Club members meeting at the Carnegie Hotel.

She said of the estimated 200,000 people who attempt to cross the border illegally, 30,000 are children.

She said most appear to have been “shipped” to the border, and noted that most of the illegal immigrants are purposely “turning themselves in” to U.S. border enforcement officials.

Harshbarger said “40% of border patrol agents have been pulled” from their normal duties to process undocumented children. Meanwhile, the congresswoman said Mexican methamphetamine  and other drugs are still making their way into the United States.

“We can fix the problem right now by reinstating President Trump’s policies,” she said. “Build the wall.”

The Republican lawmaker said she has been disappointed by what she called a lack of answers coming from President Joe Biden’s administration regarding where the undocumented children are coming from and why they are being relocated in the United States. Harshbarger said that includes the undocumented children she says have been sent to Memphis, despite the objections of Gov. Bill Lee.

“You can call it a conspiracy, but they are distributing those people in red states,” Harshbarger said. “It tends to change thought patterns. It changes the dynamic of the whole country.”

Harshbarger made note of state legislators in attendance at Monday’s GOP meeting, and said they were vital to helping to “protect our rights” in Tennessee.

“Every state will soon be a border state,” she said.

The congresswoman said she has made an effort to call attention to the issues that are important to her Northeast Tennessee district. She said that includes working on “bipartisan issues,” such as lowering the cost of prescription drugs and eliminating regulations and bureaucratic red tape on businesses.

“If you have ever worked a job or run a business, you’re an anomaly in Washington,” she said.

Harshbarger also took questions from the audience, including one from a woman wanting to know if Congress had authorized a recent decision by the U.S. Capitol Hill Police to open field offices in California and Florida to investigate possible threats to congressional members.

The congresswoman said she has a gun carry permit from the District of Columbia and has prepared a security and evacuation plan for “me and my staff.” As such, Harshbarger said she would not be “depending on” the capitol police.

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Press Senior Reporter

Robert Houk has served as a journalist and photographer at the Press since 1987. He is a recipient of the Associated Press Managing Editors Malcom Law Award for investigative reporting.

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