Vice President Kamala Harris is set to visit the southern border this week, having gone more than 90 days without a trip there since being named border czar.
She will stop in El Paso, Texas, on Friday, according to Politico. She will be accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the report says.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Harris’ absence at the border until now during a briefing on Wednesday, saying, “I will also note that I’ve said that when it’s the right time, she will go visit the border.”
The trip is scheduled to happen just days before former President Donald Trump is set to visit the border with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a group of House Republicans.
Psaki dodged a question about whether there was a political calculation in having Harris finally visit the border ahead of Trump’s trip.
“I would say that we have no way to predict what former President Trump will say when he goes to the border,” she said, adding that the administration’s view is that Harris and Mayorkas visiting the border to “assess and take a look at progress that’s been made” 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.”
Earlier this month, Harris deflected questions about why she has not yet visited the southern border after being tasked with handling the “root causes” of migration, saying “we’ve been to the border.”
“I – at some point – you know – we are going to the border. We’ve been to the border,” Harris said. “So this whole – this whole – this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.”
NBC’s Lester Holt pushed back, noting Harris had not been to the border herself while in office.
“I – and I haven’t been to Europe. And I mean, I don’t – I don’t understand the point that you’re making,” Harris said, adding “I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”
“Listen, I care about what’s happening at the border,” Harris said, adding that her “focus is dealing with the root causes of migration.”
“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,” she said. “And so that’s what I’m doing.”
The news comes one day after a group of bipartisan lawmakers from Texas penned an essay in the Dallas Morning News urging Harris and President Biden to visit the U.S.-Mexico border.
The essay, co-authored by Republican Senator John Cornyn, Republican Representative Tony Gonzales and Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar, voiced concern that the U.S. is on track to receive “the highest number of total yearly border crossings in two decades.”
The group noted nearly 930,000 migrants including “almost 80,000 unaccompanied children” have illegally crossed the border into America in the past 8 months.
“The momentum for this crisis has been building for months, but no significant action has been taken to address it.” the essay read. “The president and vice president have yet to even visit the border.”
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 23, 2021
On Wednesday, Cornyn blasted the announcement that Harris would visit El Paso.
“After all that, @VP isn’t even going to the right place,” Cornyn wrote in a tweet alongside a map of Texas.