Vice President Kamala Harris visited the southern border in El Paso, Texas, on Friday, after being pressed for weeks to visit the region as it deals with migration and the issue of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States.
“The work that we have to do is addressing the…root causes, otherwise we will continue to see the effect of what is happening at the border. It is going to require a comprehensive approach that acknowledges each piece of this,” Harris told reporters before leaving the region.
Harris, who has been tasked with the border issue by President Joe Biden, defended visiting other countries before her visit to El Paso, which included a visit to an El Paso central processing center and a US Customs and Border Protection Facility, as well as a meeting with five girls, ages nine to 16, from Central America. According to a pool report, they drew pictures for her and told her what they wanted to be when they grew up.
In an interview with NBC News earlier this month, Harris had a somewhat testy exchange with anchor Lester Holt as he pressed her on whether she had plans to visit the border. “We’ve been to the border,” she said. “So this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.” But when Holt noted that she herself had not been there, she responded, “And I haven’t been to Europe…I don’t understand the point that you are making,” as she said that she was not discounting the importance of the border.
On Friday, she told reporters that her “trip to Guatemala and Mexico was about addressing the root causes. The stories that I heard and the interactions that we had today reinforce the nature of those root causes — lack of economic opportunity, very often violence and corruption, and food and security, and basic needs not being met including fear of cartels and gang violence.”
Harris was joined by Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and praised him, telling reporters that he had made progress.
The headline on FoxNews.com read: ‘EXTREME PROGRESS’? VP Harris touts gains in migrant crisis after finally visiting border after 93 days, defends trip to El Paso.” The network has had a laser focus on the issue, as has former President Donald Trump, blasting immigration as one of the Biden administration’s failures.
Harris, though, seemed to push back against the criticism over the border situation, telling reporters, “Let’s recognize with a sense of humanity that these issues must be addressed in a way that is informed by fact and informed by reality and informed by perspective that is dedicated to addressing problems and fixing them in the most constructive and productive way.”
Harris left El Paso for Los Angeles, where she will be overnight.