Fending off unabated criticism from Republicans about her failure to visit the U.S.-Mexico border since being tapped as immigration czar, Vice President Kamala Harris reportedly plans to visit a stretch of the boundary this week.
Harris will arrive in El Paso, Texas, on Friday alongside Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, her office confirmed. No other information about the visit was immediately available.
News of Harris’ visit comes as she faces relentless criticism from Republicans that she’s unfit for the role because she has not visited the border since Biden tapped her in March to handle the rapidly accelerating flow of Central American migrants seeking refuge in the U.S.
“Despite being in the midst of a border crisis this country has not seen in two decades, Vice President Harris has not yet shown adequate interest in observing this crisis first-hand,” Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) said in a letter to Biden signed by 56 House lawmakers last week.
Conservative outlet Fox News has been keeping a tally of the number of days she’s gone without a border visit.
Harris has pushed back against that narrative, saying her focus is on addressing the lack of stability in the countries from where migrants are fleeing. She highlighted that approach during a visit to Guatemala earlier this month.
“I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” Harris said at a press conference after meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. “At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come, do not come.”
But her words were met with frustration from within her own party, too. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said it was “disappointing to see” and noted that the U.S. has played an integral role in destabilizing the countries in question and exacerbating corruption and inequality there, including in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Criticism of Harris comes as the Biden administration grapples with soaring numbers of migrants showing up at the border seeking asylum. More than 180,000 migrants arrived in May, according to Customs and Border Protection, and more than 112,000 were immediately expelled.
Though Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives have argued that it’s legal to seek asylum, the Biden administration has continued to lean on a Trump-era order from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that lets the U.S. quickly turn away migrants in the name of public health.
Former President Donald Trump is also slated make an appearance at the border soon, as he announced last week he had accepted an invitation from Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to visit the border with him on June 30.