After mounting criticism from Republicans about her inability to visit the U.S.-Mexico Border sooner than she was tapped by President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris will be traveling to El Paso Texas to make her first trip to that border.
Harris will be participating in a walking tour at the El Paso Central Processing Center. This is a Customs and Border Patrol facility. Harris will receive an "operational briefing" after the tour. This briefing will cover the operation of the facility, the most recent technological advancements, as well as the administration's efforts in combating transnational crime.
Harris left Joint Base Andrews on Friday morning and was accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Senator Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin.
Harris will be able to have a conversation after the tour with representatives from faith-based non-governmental organizations, Shelter and Legal Service Providers, as well as advocates for other faith-based NGOs. Harris will be joined by Durbin, Mayorkas and Escobar at the end. They will make remarks and take questions.
Tom Homan, former Acting Director U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement has criticized Harris for not focusing on the most affected areas at the southern border and instead choosing El Paso over the Rio Grande Valley.
"Instead talking to those men and women who are dealing with the crisis, and caring for thousands of unaccompanied kids, she chooses El Paso. She doesn't want the devastation her policies have caused."
According to administration officials, the vice president's Friday trip is "building upon" Harris' "diplomatic work in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras."
Harris traveled earlier this month to Guatemala. Officials said that the visit was focused on the "root cause of migration", while Friday's visit was "about the consequences" at the border. Officials stated that both trips would inform the Root Causes Strategy of the administration.
"As Vice President Harris stated during her trip to Guatemala or Mexico, what happens at the border matters" was the message from Symone Sanders, Harris chief spokesperson and senior advisor. She spoke to reporters Thursday to preview the trip. It is directly related to the work of addressing root causes of migration.
Sanders called El Paso important, saying that it "represents larger borders dynamics and is a crucial part of understanding migration."
Officials from the administration also stated that Harris' visit will "shed light" on the Biden administration’s efforts to "build an orderly, fair, and humane immigration system."
Sanders stated that the current situation at the border was a result of an inefficient immigration system that has been neglected for too long. "Since President and Vice President took office, they have been focusing on immigration at all levels, establishing legal pathways, addressing root causes, and restoring a fair and orderly system for asylum.
Sanders argued that the decision to send Harris to Texas on Friday was made without Republican pressure.
"This administration doesn't take cues from Republican criticism or the former President of America. Over a variety of occasions, and the vice president over the course of the last three months, we have stated that she would travel to the border. She's been there before. She would return. She would go again when appropriate.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, also stated that Harris should make the trip at the "appropriate" time.
Psaki stated that "We are here because we've made great progress." He also noted that the coordination of the trip was done in conjunction with the Vice President's Office and the Department of Homeland Security. Is there more work to be done? Yes. It is vital that each component of our government be coordinated.
Former President Trump will visit the border with Texas Governor. Greg Abbott will be next week.
"Biden, Harris have given control of our border to cartels and criminals," Trump said. Trump released a statement saying that drug dealers, MS-13 gang members and human smugglers, as well as sex traffickers and other criminal elements, now have full control. "What Harris and Biden have done on our border and continue to do is a grave, willful dereliction.
The White House stated that Trump's trip had not affected Harris' timing.
Psaki stated that Psaki had made an assessment of the government regarding when it was appropriate for her to cross at the border.
More than 180,000 migrants were seen at the border in May. Critics blame a rapid reversal Trump-era policies, such as the Migrant Protection Protocols and border wall construction, and what they perceive as a more welcoming message for migrants.
Instead, the Biden administration has emphasized the importance of "root causes", such as violence, poverty, and climate change in Central America. However, it is more focused on the challenges of quickly processing migrants into the U.S., including unaccompanied children.
In the meantime, President Biden praised Harris for her "great job so far", since he selected her to address the "root causes of the migration crisis" back in March.
Biden stated that it was important for her to go down because she has now established the criteria after speaking with the presidents of Mexico and Guatemala, as well as having visited the region to determine what needs to be done.