Vice President Kamala Harris will journey to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday amid stress from Republicans who’ve seized on a surge of border crossings to criticize the Biden administration, her workplace introduced on Wednesday. She is going to journey to El Paso, Texas, with Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland safety secretary.
President Biden tapped Ms. Harris to steer an effort to enhance circumstances in Central America to discourage migration north because the administration struggled to securely course of unaccompanied minors on the border earlier this yr. Ms. Harris has since confronted mounting questions over her absence on the border from Republicans and a few average Democrats who’ve mentioned the administration lacks a transparent technique on border safety.
The go to will come simply days earlier than former President Donald J. Trump is about to go to the border with a gaggle of Home Republicans and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who has pledged to complete the border wall that grew to become a logo of Mr. Trump’s restrictive immigration agenda.
Ms. Harris and her aides have defended her function on migration, arguing that she is concentrated on addressing the poverty and persecution that power weak households to depart their properties. However even throughout a visit to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month aimed toward enhancing circumstances within the area, she continued to face questions over her absence on the border. Her solutions on the matter fueled criticism, annoyed brokers tasked with responding to the surge of migrants and perplexed some inside the administration.
“I’ve by no means been to Europe,” Ms. Harris mentioned to the NBC anchor Lester Holt when pressed about why she had not visited the border as a part of her work addressing migration. “I don’t perceive the purpose you’re making.”
Jen Psaki, the White Home press secretary, defended Ms. Harris’s feedback on Wednesday. “She mentioned in the identical interview she can be open to going to the border at an applicable time,” Ms. Psaki mentioned.
Pressed on whether or not the timing of her journey had something to do with the upcoming go to by Mr. Trump, Ms. Psaki mentioned, “We made an evaluation inside our authorities about when it was an applicable time for her to go the border.”
The vice chairman’s feedback to NBC distracted from Ms. Harris’s efforts to refocus consideration on initiatives to fight corruption, gun trafficking and unlawful border crossings. Earlier than Ms. Harris stumbled over questions on a possible go to, she delivered a blunt message to migrants on behalf of Mr. Biden.
“Don’t come,” Ms. Harris mentioned in Guatemala, sparking criticism from immigration advocates and progressives.
Ms. Harris dedicated the following day to visiting the southern border.