Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit the U.S.-Mexico border Friday after declining to go for months, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced Wednesday.
Politico first reported the trip Wednesday afternoon, roughly an hour before the White House confirmed the border visit. Harris will visit the border Friday in El Paso, Texas, alongside Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Harris’ trip will come 93 days after President Joe Biden appointed her to lead the administration’s response to the ongoing immigration crisis.
New: VP Kamala Harris is heading to U.S. southern border on Friday.
— Sabrina Rodríguez (@sabrod123) June 23, 2021
Harris’ trip also comes just before former President Donald Trump’s own visit to the border, which is expected the following week. House Republicans have already announced plans to join Trump at the rally, where he is expected to criticize Biden’s immigration policies. Immigration has continued to be Biden’s least successful policy area, with polls showing large majorities of Americans preferring Trump’s border policies.
Trump highlighted the timing in a statement soon after Harris’ trip was reported, arguing she never would have agreed to go if he hadn’t planned his own trip.
“It is great that we got Kamala Harris to finally go,” says Trump spinning the VP’s upcoming border trip. pic.twitter.com/V4IJW5sNNB
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) June 23, 2021
Harris has insisted for months that her role in immigration response does not pertain to the border itself, but instead focuses on diplomatic efforts aimed at ending “root causes” of migration from Central America.
Harris made her inaugural foreign policy trip to Guatemala and Mexico in early June, facing widespread criticism from both Republicans and some Democrats. NBC News host Lester Holt pressed her at the time on why she has yet to visit the border.
“Do you have any plans to visit the border?” Holt asked at the time.
“At some point. You know, we are going to the border. 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,” Harris responded.
“You haven’t been to the border,” Holt interjected.
“I care about what’s happening at the border. I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration,” Harris continued. “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.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported more than 180,000 border apprehensions in May, the most recent month with available data. The number is a 21-year record for monthly apprehensions. The record was previously broken in both March and April of this year, which saw 173,000 and 178,000 apprehensions, respectively.