Kamala Harris to visit US-Mexico border after backlash from Republicans

Vice president will visit border in El Paso accompanied by DHS secretary

John Bowden
Wednesday 23 June 2021 18:35
<p>Vice President Kamala Harris</p>

Vice President Kamala Harris

Vice PresidentKamala Harris will visit the US-Mexico border next week for her first time as vice president.

She 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.

Ms Harris’s press secretary announced the trip in a statement on Wednesday. She will be accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the trip.

“Vice President Harris will travel to El Paso, Texas on Friday, June 25. She will be accompanied by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 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,” said Symone Sanders, the vice president’s press secretary.

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 centres 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.

“Listen, 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.”

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.

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