Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the U.S. southern border about three months after she was put in charge of handling the illegal immigration crisis.
The Office of the Vice President sent out an email to the press on Wednesday confirming that Harris will visit El Paso, Texas, on Friday, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas joining her.
“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,” stated the email. “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.”
Harris will be nearly 800 miles away from the cities and towns affected by the border crisis, such as Mission and McAllen. The vice president also won't be meeting with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or Border Patrol agents, mayors and residents who are most affected by the surge of migrants.
"Vice President Harris is ignoring the real problem areas along our southern border that are not protected by the border wall and are being overrun by the federal government's ill-thought-out open border policies," Abbott said in a statement about Harris' visit to El Paso amid the ongoing border crisis.
"She will fail in her mission if she refuses to speak to residents of the Del Rio sector whose homes and ranches are being overrun by gangs and smugglers," the governor added.
"The vice president was named border czar over 90 days ago, and in that time Texans have had their homes broken into, property damaged, and guns pointed at their heads as cartels, smugglers and human traffickers profit off the Biden administration’s reckless open-border policies," he continued. "I launched Operation Lone Star in March to combat this record-high influx of people and crime, and since then DPS has arrested over 1,700 criminals, apprehended over 41,000 migrants, and seized enough fentanyl to kill over 21 million people."
President Joe Biden tapped Harris to be “border czar” on March 24, saying she was “the most qualified person to do it" due to her experience as attorney general of California. She has since faced criticism for not accepting repeated requests that she visit the southern border to see the crisis for herself.
The Biden administration’s approach to dealing with mass migration and the border crisis was also criticized by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. He noted that despite telling people not to come to the U.S. months after the crisis began, as Vice President Kamala Harris did during her recent visit to that country, the administration's policies are making it easier for cartels to traffic people into the U.S.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making the dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border — do not come, do not come,” said Harris at a press conference in Guatemala. “There are legal methods by which migration can and should occur, but we, as one of our priorities, will discourage illegal migration. And I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who recently went to the border to see the immigration crisis, criticized the Biden administration for its border policies that he says are enabling cartels to profit from human trafficking.
"The answers aren’t down there in Guatemala because the cartel is actively recruiting. They’re making about $5 billion this year trafficking people across our southern border," Donald said in an interview with Fox News earlier this month. "And so you don’t have to go down to Guatemala to know what’s actually going on. What’s going on is the administration’s weak policies allow the cartels to make billions of dollars. It’s that simple."
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to halt border wall construction, a move Republican lawmakers say is unauthorized since funds for construction had already been appropriated.
When Harris was tasked with resolving the border crisis in late March, she described it as “a challenging situation” and said the “root causes” of the border problems must be addressed. “And while we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law,” Harris said at the time.
“We will collaborate with Mexico and other countries throughout the Western hemisphere," Harris added. "And as part of this effort, we expect that we will have collaborative relationships to accomplish the goals the president has and that we share.”
Data released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection show there were 180,034 land encounters between illegal border crossers and immigration officials in May, making it the highest monthly tally in 21 years and the 13th consecutive month that the number of illegal border crossings increased.
Customers and Border Patrol statistics show that there have been 1.1 million enforcement actions with immigrants illegally entering the U.S. in fiscal year-to-date at the border. These encounters include " ... arrests of individuals with criminal convictions and individuals who have been apprehended multiple times crossing the border illegally."
Recently, Harris has faced questions from multiple reporters for her apparent hesitation to visit the southern border, having previously said that it would serve little purpose.
“The issue of root causes is not going to be solved in one trip that took two days,” said Harris earlier this month, as reported by The Daily Wire. “This is an issue that is long standing, is in many cases generational. It is not a new issue for the United States, to feel the effects of those root causes on our shores.”
The day before the trip was announced, a bipartisan group of Texan legislators urged Harris to visit their border with Mexico in light of a sharp influx of immigrants entering the U.S. illegally over the past several months.
“The momentum for this crisis has been building for months, but no significant action has been taken to address it,” they said in an op-ed piece published by The Dallas Morning News. “The president and vice president have yet to even visit the border.”