Kamala Harris to visit U.S.-Mexico border, assess migration

Kamala Harris in February 2021

When asked whether the White House wanted to make sure Harris visited the border before Trump's scheduled visit next week, Psaki replied: "we made an assessment within our government about when it was an appropriate time for her to go to the border".

More than a week after former President Donald Trump announced he would visit the U.S. -Mexico border amid the migrant surge, Vice President Kamala Harris finally announced Wednesday she will make the trip. On Friday, she is to accompany Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to El Paso.

The trip is part of her job of addressing the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Harris, who is in charge of diplomatic efforts with Central American leaders, has resisted going to the U.S. -Mexico border. She asserted that the goal of Harris's and Mayorka's itinerary is to "assess and take a look at progress that's been made", which will not "prevent or change what the former president of the United States says when he goes to the border in another couple of days".

Her trip, however, was complicated by continued questions over whether she would go to the border to view the situation there.

Harris is set to travel to El Paso, Texas, her office said.

Harris will get there five days ahead of former President Donald Trump, who announced last week he would be heading to Texas on June 30 to survey the border alongside the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Shortly after the news of Harris' visit began circulating, Trump released a statement claiming that if he and Abbott "weren't going there next week, she would have never gone!"

Mr Trump and other Republicans took credit for the surprise visit.

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Speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed questions from Fox News' Peter Doocy, and others, as to why she has now chose to visit the border despite months of claiming this was not her job.

The number of migrants arriving at the USA southern border has soared in the months since the Biden administration took office.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it caught 180,034 migrants in May, the biggest monthly total since April 2000, and up slightly from the previous two months.

President Joe Biden meets with Afghanistan's leader this week to discuss the USA troop drawdown.

Almost 3,300 migrants stranded in Mexico since January due to a US border policy have been kidnapped, raped, trafficked or assaulted, according to a report by a human rights group released on Tuesday. However, Biden continues to grapple with the longstanding political and logistical challenges of handling an increased number of migrant arrivals.

Harris has redirected the conversation away from her absence at the border on multiple occasions, including during a television interview with NBC's Lester Holt. President Joe Biden tasked Harris with dealing with the root causes earlier this year. During a press conference with the Guatemalan president earlier this month, Harris dismissed the criticism, saying her visit to the region was focused on finding ways to address irregular migration in a way "that is significant, is tangible and has real results".

Republicans in Congress said Harris will see firsthand what the administration's policies have wrought.

In March, Harris laughed when a reporter asked if she planned to visit the border.

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