Harris to visit border for first time as vice president

Harris to visit border for first time as vice president
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Vice President Harris will visit the southern border on Friday, her first trip to the area since being tasked in March with addressing root causes of migration and after months of pressure from Republicans.

Harris will visit El Paso, Texas, and will be joined by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasSecond senior official leaving DHS in a week Biden administration expanding efforts to reunite separated migrant families DHS secretary's chief of staff resigns MORE, her office announced. The trip was first reported by Politico. Further details on what Harris will be doing in El Paso were not immediately available. 

Republicans and some Democrats, including Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), have harped on the lack of a border visit from Harris.

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White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — FDA panel backs boosters for some, but not all White House to host global COVID-19 summit next week Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France MORE noted that Harris and other administration officials have said she would visit the border when the timing was right. 

The trip, Psaki said, "is part of the coordinated effort between her office, her work, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, to continue to address the root causes and work in coordination to get the situation under control."

President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE announced in March that Harris would be responsible for addressing the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border as record numbers of young people arrived in the region. The White House later sought to clarify that Harris would be leading efforts to work with Northern Triangle countries on addressing the root causes of migration.

"At some point, you know, we are going to the border," Harris told NBC News earlier this month when asked if she plans to visit. "We've been to the border. So this whole thing about the border. We've been to the border. We've been to the border." 

"You haven't been to the border," Lester Holt responded. 

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"And I haven't been to Europe," she replied. "And I mean, I don't ... understand the point that you're making. I'm not discounting the importance of the border."

Harris earlier this month made her first international trip to Guatemala and Mexico, meeting with the leaders of both countries to discuss U.S. investments and collaborative efforts to reduce the flow of migrants to the southern border. Harris stressed that migrants should not come to the U.S. at this time, a message that drew criticism from some progressives.

The number of unaccompanied children and families agents encountered at the border hit a record of nearly 19,000 in March. Those numbers have steadily decreased in the months since, though agents still encountered more than 14,000 unaccompanied children in May.

Biden officials have insisted it will take time to get the necessary resources in place after the Trump administration focused on restricting avenues to legal immigration. Republicans have blamed Biden's reversal of Trump-era laws, such as the Migrant Protection Protocols, for the spike in migrants attempting to come to the U.S.

Harris's visit will come days before former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE travels to the border alongside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and congressional Republicans.

"After months of ignoring the crisis at the Southern Border, it is great that we got Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisStefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' Live coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate Florida woman faces five years in prison for threatening to kill Harris MORE to finally go and see the tremendous destruction and death that they've created—a direct result of Biden ending my very tough but fair Border policies," Trump said in a statement on Wednesday.

"If Governor Abbott and I weren’t going there next week, she would have never gone!" he added.

Updated at 1:31 p.m.