Vice President Kamala Harris finally will visit the southern border on Friday, her office confirmed, as former President Donald Trump claimed his upcoming trip to the region forced her into the move.
Three months after President Biden tapped her to handle the crisis of surging illegal migration, Ms. Harris will make a stop in El Paso, Texas, on Friday. Chief spokeswoman Symone Sanders said the trip is part of the vice president’s “ongoing work” to address the causes of migration from Central America.
She will be accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Mr. Trump said Ms. Harris is making the trip only because he previously announced that he will visit the border June 30 with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
“If Governor Abbott and I weren’t going there next week, she would have never gone!” Mr. Trump said in a statement through his Save America PAC. “After months of ignoring the crisis at the southern border, it is great that we got Kamala Harris to finally go and see the tremendous destruction and death that they’ve created — a direct result of Biden ending my very tough but fair border policies.”
He said, “Harris and Biden were given the strongest border in American history. And now, it is by far the worst in American history.”
After his trip to the border on Wednesday, Mr. Trump will expand vastly the coverage of his event with a prime-time appearance at a town hall on Fox News hosted by Sean Hannity.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the decision on the timing of the vice president’s trip “was made in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security.”
“We didn’t want anyone to visit at a time where it would be disruptive to efforts and progress being made on the ground,” Ms. Psaki said. “We have no way to predict what former President Trump will say when he goes to the border. We can only guess.”
She said White House officials don’t believe that Ms. Harris‘ visit will “prevent or change what the former president of the United States does when he goes to the border.”
Others in the Trump camp said the former president has forced Ms. Harris into a difficult spot.
“Biden and Harris blinked,” tweeted former Trump adviser Jason Miller. “Not only does this put more emphasis on Pres. Trump’s visit, Harris doesn’t have good answers on Remain in Mexico, Catch & Release, or Wall Construction.”
Republicans and some Democrats have slammed Ms. Harris for failing to visit the border to witness the migration problems first-hand. Border encounters for U.S. officials this spring have reached their highest level in 20 years.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted, “It took: 600,000 + illegal crossings, 463,000lbs + of drugs seized, dozens of U.S. Senators and House members traveling to the southern border, and mounting pressure from the American people for Kamala to finally schedule a trip to the border.”
Ms. Harris had dismissed such a visit as a “grand gesture,” but later said under increasing criticism that she would make the trip eventually.