After more than 90 days of overseeing the border crisis without a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Vice President Kamala Harris has announced she will be visiting El Paso, Texas, on Friday, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Harris has come under severe criticism for how she has handled the border crisis. President Biden had instructed her to address the "root causes" of the crisis, which was to be the focus of her first trip abroad to Guatemala recently. White House officials said the trip was in line with Harris' instructions to work "with leaders in the Northern Triangle" and work on ways to "address corruption," according to Fox News.
"Earlier this year, the president asked the vice president to oversee our diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. As a part of this ongoing work, the vice president traveled to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month and will travel to El Paso on Friday," a statement released Wednesday reads.
During the White House press briefing Wednesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said the trip was part of "the coordinated effort" between Harris's office, "her work, the Department of Homeland Security [and] the Department of Health and Human Services" to address the causes of increased migration.
Critics claimed this trip should not have taken precedence over visiting the Mexico border.
"At some point, you know, we are going to the border," Harris said in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt. She then compared the Guatemala trip to her visit to Europe.
"We've been to the border," she said. "So this whole, this whole, this whole thing about the border. We've been to the border. We've been to the border."
Psaki later said the vice president had yet to visit because Harris "didn't want to visit a time when it would be disruptive to efforts on the ground."
Officials from the former Trump administration have said Harris cannot effectively oversee the situation from afar and echoed the repeated calls of many for Harris to manage the crisis in person. Her announcement comes on the heels of the announcement of Trump's visit to the border, also scheduled for Friday. Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and a group of House Republicans will join him in this trip.
The former president claimed that if he and Gov. Abbot had not announced their border trip, Harris "would never have gone!"
Trump responds to Harris announcing border visit— Jack Brewster (@jbruce218) June 23, 2021
"After months of ignoring the crisis at the Southern Border, it is great that we got Kamala Harris to finally go and see the tremendous destruction and death that they've created" pic.twitter.com/oP68VLRPbx
Immigration numbers have increased dramatically since the Biden administration took office at the start of 2021. The Customs and Border Protection monthly figures reveal that more than 180,000 migrants were apprehended at the border in May.
Additionally, 18,800 unaccompanied children crossed the border in March, topping the highest monthly number previously recorded at 11,000 children who crossed the border in May 2019.
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