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Vice President Kamala Harris announced Wednesday that she is planning to visit the countries of Mexico and Guatemala “as soon as possible” in her diplomatic efforts aimed at stemming the record surge of migrants illegally entering the U.S. at its southern border.
But the vice president refused to answer when asked whether she might visit the border as the administration struggles with the crisis, instead saying Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is handling it.
What are the details?
Harris hosted a virtual roundtable with a panel of experts on the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, saying in her introduction that the citizens of those nations should be assured by the U.S. that “if they stay home, help is on the way.”
At the first opportunity for questions from the press, a reporter asked the vice president, “Will you visit the southern border? Do you have a trip planned? Will you plan one in the future if the situation with migration doesn’t resolve itself?”
“The president has asked Secretary Mayorkas to address what’s going on at the border,” Harris replied, “and he’s been working very hard at that and is showing some progress because of his hard work.”
“I have been asked to lead the issue of dealing with root causes,” Harris said, emphasizing that “these are issues that are not going to be addressed overnight.”
She added that “a large part of our focus is diplomatic,” revealing that she has “plans in the work to go to Guatemala as soon as possible,” and that she hopes to stop in Mexico on her way when that trip occurs.
Politico reported Wednesday:
The White House has taken pains to specify that the president has tasked Harris specifically with addressing the flow of migrants in Central America and not the situation at the U.S. southern border. But a chorus of Republican lawmakers and conservative media pundits have nonetheless laid into Harris over what they have characterized as her inaction on the issue.
Biden tapped Harris to take the lead on “stemming the migration” from Northern Triangle countries on Mar. 24. That same day, the vice president told CBS News that she and Biden would “absolutely” visit the southern border sometime soon.
Three weeks later, Harris’ roundtable discussion is the first conference she has held on the crisis, where she dodged on whether she would take a trip the border.
During a media conference held by House Republican leadership on Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) mocked Harris’ visible absence from the southern border by displaying a milk carton with the vice president’s picture on it. The caption on the carton by Harris’ photo read, “Missing at the border.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) April 14, 2021
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) explained at the presser, “The president has said Vice President Harris is in charge of the border. Vice President Harris said she was not in charge of the border. Nobody seems to be in charge. She hasn’t been there, and we have a humanitarian and national security crisis and health crisis unfolding there.”