Harris will visit border in El Paso accompanied by DHS secretary
Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the US-Mexico border next week for her first time as vice president.
Politico first reported the news on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the vice president’s plans. She is set to be accompanied by Alejandro Mayorkas, head of the Department of Homeland Security, on the trip.
The vice president had come under increasing criticism from Republicans over the past few months after she was appointed by President Joe Biden to oversee his administration’s handling of the situation at the border and the ongoing surge of northbound migration, due to her lack of physical visits to the border and facilities where migrants, particularly children, are being held.
White House officials did not immediately return a request for comment from The Independent.
Her visit to the border follows a multi-day trip to Guatemala and Mexico, where the vice president met with the countries’ respective leaders and vowed US support for anticorruption efforts and other work seen as necessary by the administration to address the underlying causes of US-bound Central American migration.
Ms Harris was defensive about her lack of visits to border facilities and migrant detention centers in interviews with reporters during the trip, responding derisively with “and I haven’t been to Europe,” when NBC’s Lester Holt noted that she had not yet visited the border.
“[L]isten, I care about what’s happening at the border,” Ms Harris continued during the interview earlier in June. “I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration.”
“There may be some who think that that is not important, but it is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them. And so that’s what I’m doing,” she added at the time.
The Biden administration has faced criticism in general from Republicans on the issue of immigration for months, many of whom are furious over the quick moves by Mr Biden in the early days of his presidency to roll back policies put in place by his predecessor that many liberal activists called inhumane, such as the so-called “remain in Mexico” policy that left many asylum seekers in vulnerable or dangerous positions along the US-Mexico border as they waited for asylum claims to be processed.
Left-leaning activists have argued at the same time that the White House must do more to roll back Trump-era immigration policies and ensure that migrants, many of whom are pursuing legal asylum claims, are protected.
Refugee admission rates plunged in the US during former President Donald Trump’s term in office, as his administration made drastic cuts to the total number of refugees allowed to be admitted every year.
The Biden administration raised the cap to 62,500 refugees allowed to be admitted this year in May, after initially claiming it would stick with the 15,000 limit placed by the Trump administration. Days later, Mr Biden said that they did not expect to meet that number due to logistical difficulties presented by changes made under the Trump administration.