The White House said on Tuesday said Vice President Kamala Harris might head to the border ‘at some point,’ after Harris indicated on a trip to Guatemala and Mexico that she was not interested in ‘grand gestures.’
It was the latest answer to a question that has dogged Harris since President Biden tasked her with dealing with root causes of a migration surge – and the latest indication that Harris’ trip to the Golden Triangle would not quell the pressure to visit the source of many migrants seeking to cross the border.
‘I think that at some point she may go to the border. We’ll see,’ said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who fielded several questions on the topic at her daily briefing.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki faced a series of questions about when Vice President Kamala Harris would visit the border. ”I think that at some point she may go to the border. We’ll see,’ she said Tuesday
She added further hedging, even while keeping the timing of any visit up in the air.
‘If it is constructive and it moves the ball forward for her to visit the border, she certainly may do that,’ Psaki added, combining three hedges into her answer.
She said at one point, when pressed: ‘I expect, at some time, she may go to the border, but as you know, what her focus has been, what the assignment is, specifically, is to work with leaders in the Northern Triangle. She’s on a trip doing exactly that, exactly what the president asked her to do.’
When a questioner asked Psaki about Republicans ‘going crazy on Twitter’ following the latest Harris comments, Psaki said: ‘They’re worked up – I’ve seen it.’
The apparent walkback came after Harris asserted that ‘we’ve been to the border’ – a in comments that aired after she characterized such a move as being for show.
Harris lashed out at at NBC host Lester Holt in an interview Tuesday when he asked why she has refused to the border in the 76 days since President Joe Biden put her in charge of the crisis.
‘Do you have any plans to visit the border?’ the NBC host questioned Harris in an interview taped Monday in Guatemala during the vice president’s first international trip.
‘At some point, you know, we are going to the border,’ she insisted in the interview 1,308 miles from where migrants are risking their lives crossing the Rio Grande River on inflatable rafts.
‘We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border,’ she repeated.
‘You haven’t been to the border,’ Holt pushed back.
‘And I haven’t been to Europe,’ Harris snapped, then quickly turned it into her signature laugh.
‘And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making,’ she said to Holt ‘I’m not discounting the importance of the border.’
Harris met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday in Mexico City, but had not border visit planned as part of her trip.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz shot back against Harris’ comments, claiming she was ‘laughing off’ the seriousness of the border crisis.
‘You haven’t been to Europe, you haven’t been to Australia, but we don’t have an Australian border crisis, we don’t have a border crisis in Europe. We have a border crisis on the southern border,’ Cruz told Fox News during an interview on America’s Newsroom.
Kamala Harris lashed out during an interview on Monday when asked again why she hasn’t visited the southern border. ‘I haven’t been to Europe,’ the vice president snapped at interviewer Lester Holt. ‘And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making’
The interview was taped in Guatemala City during Harris’ first international trip, which took place 1,308 miles away from the Rio Grande, where families risk their lives to reach the U.S.
A masked Harris met with unmasked Mexican Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday in Mexico City, less than 600 miles from the border, but the vice president will not stop there on her way back to D.C.
Central American migrants sit on the ground after being apprehended by Border Patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande River into La Joya, Texas on June 8, 2021
The migrants are transported on Tuesday by bus to holding facilities where they will be processed
‘Come to Texas, come to the Rio Grande Valley, come to McAllen,’ the Texas lawmaker insisted of Harris.
‘Come see the cages that the Biden-Harris administration has built and then, even more importantly, stand up and be willing to enforce our laws to fix it, because that’s not what they’re doing right now,’ Cruz added.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise tweeted in shock: ‘This is a crisis we’re talking about—not a vacation.’
Perhaps most flamboyant of all responses was from Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who released a video Tuesday where she brought a cardboard cut out of Harris with her on a trip to the border.
‘She hasn’t even been down here to see the border,’ Boebert said in a clip of her walking along part of the southern border wall to the tune of instrumental rock music. ‘You can’t just hear about what’s happening, you have to come down here to see for yourself, to really understand the devastating reality at our southern border.’
‘So I brought Kamala down to see exactly what this regime is responsible for with their man-made crisis,’ she continued.
The video then showed Boebert carrying under her arm sideways a life-sized full-body cutout of Harris.
As Harris continues to refuse to visit the border, Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert released a video where she brought a cardboard cut out of the vice president to a part of the southern border wall
She set up the life-size cut out facing the wall looking into Mexico and said: ‘I brought Kamala down to see exactly what this regime is responsible for with their man-made crisis. Now Kamala, I want you to stand here and look at what you’ve done’
She then set down the cutout so it was facing the border wall and said in a reprimanding tone, ‘Now Kamala, I want you to stand here and look at what you’ve done,’ before leaving it there and walking away.
Holt made it clear it was important to bring it up since Republicans have consistently criticized Harris for not visiting the border where the humanitarian crisis is taking place – even though she was put in charge of tackling it.
‘Listen, I care about what’s happening at the border,’ Harris said. ‘I’m in Guatemala because my 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. And so that’s what I’m doing.’
Harris landed in Guatemala City on Sunday evening for her first out-of-country trip as vice president to address ‘root causes’ in the country that lead to mass migration to the U.S.
She met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday for bilateral talks and later flew to Mexico City, Mexico for the second part of her two-day Latin America trip.
Harris said during a press conference alongside Giammattei on Monday that she does not plan to visit the southern border because it would just be a ‘grand gesture’ as opposed to a genuine trip.
She vowed to take on corruption and insisted climate change was one of the driving forces behind people fleeing their homes and heading North.
‘On the issues of Republicans’ political attacks or criticism or even concerns, the reason I am here in Guatemala as my first trip as vice president of the United States is because this is one of our highest priorities,’ Harris said during a question and answer portion of her press conference.
‘I came here to be here on the ground, to speak with the leader of this nation around what we can do in a way that is significant, is tangible and has real results,’ she continued.
‘And I will continue to be focused on that kind of work as opposed to grand gestures.’
Congressman Andy Biggs, a Texas Republican, didn’t buy Harris’ reasoning for not visiting the southern border.
‘It is not a grand gesture for Vice President Harris to inspect the damage and inhumanity fueled by the Biden Administration at the southern border,’ Biggs said in a statement to DailyMail.com. ‘However, Kamala would rather turn a blind eye to the mounting chaos than reinforce Trump’s policies that would bring security and stability back to our border.’
Harris’ first foreign trip comes as migrants continue to make the trek from Central America to the U.S. southern border. Here people ride rafts across the Suchiate River between Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico and Tecun Uman, Guatemala on June 7, 2021
Customs and Border Patrol number show record numbers of encounters with illegal crossers with a record-high of 178,622 in April alone, continuing on from massive spike in February and March
Other Republicans also have been open about their criticism of Harris refusing to visit the border even after being named ‘border czar’ by President Joe Biden in March. They claim her avoiding the region is proof she is not committed to solving the problem.
Harris said she ‘believes’ any migrants who attempt to enter the U.S. through non-legal channels will be turned away if they arrive at the border.
‘I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,’ Harris said after her bilateral meeting with 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,’ she said, and repeated for emphasis: ‘Do not come.’
‘The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border,’ the vice president insisted. ‘There are legal methods by which migration can and should occur, but we, as one of our priorities, will discourage illegal migrations. And I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.’
Harris’ chief spokesperson Symone Sanders clarified to reporters that the administration still wants immigrants to come to the U.S. by seeking the legal ways to do so from their home countries.
‘The President and Vice President have been clear in dissuading people from making the dangerous and treacherous journey to the U.S./Mexico border,’ Sanders said.
‘We encourage those who do want to come to the U.S. to do so legally and seek legal immigration options in their home countries,’ she continued. ‘The Vice President is committed to addressing the root causes of migration, which also addresses why migrants are coming to our border.’
Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamattei (right) held a bilateral meeting in Guatemala on Monday as part of talks to deal with ‘root causes’ of mass migration from Latin America to the U.S.
Harris’ first international trip was met with protesters demanding she ‘mind your own business’
‘Kamala go home’ one sign read outside the Guatemalan Air Force facility
‘This is disappointing’: AOC slams Kamala for telling migrants not to come and blames the US for influx after ‘setting Latin America on fire’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has described Kamala Harris’ remarks on immigration as ‘disappointing’, after the vice president used a speech in Guatemala to declare to migrants: ‘Do not come’.
Ocasio-Cortez accused the United States of having ‘set the house on fire’ when it comes to Latin America – but being unwilling to allow people to escape. She didn’t explain why she made her explosive claim.
She then argued that the U.S. needed to emphasize the root causes of migration, rather than punishing those who seek to enter the country.
She reacted to a clip of Harris’ press conference by stating: ‘This is disappointing to see.
‘First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival. Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing.’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pictured on June 5, criticized Vice President Kamala Harris’ remarks in Guatemala. On Monday Harris told would-be migrants from the country that her message was: ‘Do not come’
The New York congresswoman added: ‘It would be helpful if the US would finally acknowledge its contributions to destabilization and regime change in the region.
‘Doing so can help us change US foreign policy, trade policy, climate policy, & carceral border policy to address causes of mass displacement & migration.’
She was responding to Harris’ remarks at her press conference on Monday besides Alejandro Giammattei, Guatemala’s president.
Republicans were not happy with Harris classifying a trip to the border as a ‘grand gesture.’
‘Traveling to our Southern Border is not a grand gesture; it is her responsibility as the ‘Border Czar’ and Vice President of the United States,’ Republican Florida Representative Byron Donalds told DailyMail.com.
‘Vice President Harris is refusing to travel to the border because she will be forced to acknowledge the crisis she and the President have created if she does,’ he continued.
‘Local, State, and Federal leaders and law enforcement officials will be the first to let the Vice President know that there is a growing crisis on the border and that ignoring it or evading her responsibility by examining the root causes will only exacerbate this crisis.’
Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy also tore into Harris’ bid to tackle the crisis as ‘spend now strategize later’. In a statement he wrote: ‘Today marks 75 days since President Biden chose Vice President Harris as his administration’s point person to ‘[stem] the migration to our southern border.’ She still has yet to travel to our southern border and see the extent of the crisis she and President Biden have created over the past six months.
‘Instead of upholding her responsibilities to the American people and our communities impacted by the border crisis, Vice President Harris decided to focus her efforts on studying the ‘root causes of migration’ from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries.
‘That’s why she’s in Guatemala today, her first foreign trip since becoming Vice President, where she just held a press conference during which she dismissed going to the border as nothing more than ‘grand gestures,’ and declined to say when she’d actually go.
‘This unconventional approach is nothing more than a cynical political decision to ensure the blame doesn’t fall on her shoulders by distancing herself from Biden’s Border Crisis.
‘Now Vice President Harris and the Biden administration want to take the typical Democrat approach of throwing more taxpayer dollars at a problem without first thinking through a coherent strategy. Over the next four years, President Biden is proposing we send $4 billion in aid to Central America with the pretense this will help curb the historic migration happening at our southern border. But there are two glaring problems to their proposal of spending our way out of the border crisis: Aid programs have failed to stem migration in the past and border order apprehensions of individuals from countries outside of Central America are rapidly increasing.
‘As Vice President, Biden has already tried spending our way out of a migration surge. He ‘led an enormous push to deter people from crossing into the United States by devoting hundreds of millions of dollars to Central America.’ However, that never panned out. In fact, in Guatemala specifically, the $1.6 billion America provided in aid over the last decade proved ineffective.
‘Vice President Harris won’t find the root cause of the border crisis on her Central America tour because it’s her and President Biden’s policies that are actually responsible. And word that our southern border is open reached significantly further than just Central America. The Border Patrol reported that encounters with individuals from nations other than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador jumped by 35 percent since March 2021, and individuals from over 160 countries have recently been apprehended.’
GOP Senator Rick Scott called Harris’ refusal to visit the border ‘disgraceful’ and an ‘insult’ to border law enforcement.
He said: ‘Months after being chosen to lead the Biden administration’s response to the border crisis it created, Vice President Harris has shown she’ll do anything to avoid taking responsibility and showing real leadership. Her continued refusal to address the border crisis – which threatens the safety of American families – is disgraceful and an insult to our brave Customs and Border Protection agents. Buy in from Guatemala and Mexico is critical to getting this crisis under control, but first, Biden and Harris must acknowledge the humanitarian and national security chaos their policies have created here in America and see it firsthand at our border. Anything less is an unacceptable failure.’
Harris affirmed during her bilateral press conference Monday that she told Giammattei the U.S. will be donating 500,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Guatemala.
Harris was greeted with protesters when she arrived for her first international trip as vice president in Guatemala City, which is 1,308 miles from where families are streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border.
‘Kamala go home,’ one white flag with black painted letters read, while another demanded she ‘mind her own business’.
As the vice president rode in her motorcade from her hotel to Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, reporters spoted a group of pro-Trump demonstrators with signs reading: ‘Kamala, Trump won.’
During the press conference, Giammattei vowed Guatemala would set up ‘returnee centers’ where they would accept their citizens who the U.S. sent back after crossing the border illegally.
Harris began her meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei with quick remarks where she said: ‘I very much have been looking forward to this trip, we have had many conversations, but it is good to see you in person.’
The two have spoken on the phone previously.
‘I am very proud that this is my first foreign trip as vice president,’ Harris continued. ‘It is a reflection of the priority that President Biden placed on this region.’
As Harris commenced her two-day trip south of the border, migrant families continue to stream over into the U.S. either by foot or on inflatable rafts.
Harris doubled-down that she will not be visting the border during her trip – or any time soon. ‘I will continue to be focused on [addressing root causes of migration and corruption] as opposed to grand gestures’
The border is closed: During the press conference, Harris warned those thinking of crossing illegally: ‘Do not come!’ She said, ‘I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back’
Ahead of the meeting, Giammattei made a statement in English.
‘Thank you very much for your visit,’ he said to Harris. ‘For us, it’s very important to have you here because it means that Guatemala and the United States can work as partners with common goals.’
He details some of the main goals as addressing narcotics trafficking, immigration, corruption in the region and building up prosperity walls within departments near the border with Mexico.
In a press conference following the meeting, Giammattei said – in Spanish this time – that the two nations would work toward more ‘orderly migration’ that would ‘allow people to migrate regularly to the United States.’
‘We also spoke about the need to support the United States with a returnee center that will be located in the western part of the country,’ he continued, adding they are wording on a ‘strong family reunification program.’
These efforts, he ensured, would ‘help to ensure that the flow of persons in the southern border of the United States be controlled.’
A 33-year-old Guatemalan man transports people and goods across the Suchiate River between Tecun Uman, Guatemala and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico
Harris’ trip started off bumpy on Sunday when Air Force 2 was forced to turn around minutes after take-off due to ‘technical issues’, which appeared to stem from an unusual noise coming from the landing gear.
‘I’m good, I’m good. We all said a little prayer, but we’re good,’ Harris told reporters as she deplaned Air Force 2 and waited for another plane to get ready.
The vice president’s team has made it clear that Harris’ role as ‘border czar’ is to address the ‘root causes’ that lead to a mass amount of Central American citizens fleeing their home countries and migrating to the U.S.
Harris chief spokesperson Symone Sanders told reporters climate and economic downfall were among ‘main drivers’ of the surge in migrants.
Critics claim, however, that President Joe Biden is to blame for the crisis after he immediately rolled back Trump-era border restrictions upon taking office this year.
The Biden administration has denied that they are sending the message that the border is ‘open’, and instead is blaming it on ‘root causes’ in Northern Triangle nations like climate, poverty, crime and corruption.
More than 178,000 migrants crossed the border in April alone, which was a continuation of a spike in February and March. Numbers for May have not yet been released.
The bilateral meeting between Harris, Giammattei and their team was held Palacio Nacional de la Cultura
The Supreme Court sided with President Joe Biden by unanimously refused on Monday to let immigrants who have been allowed to stay in the U.S. on humanitarian grounds apply to become permanent residents if they entered the country illegally.
The justices, acting on an appeal by a married couple from El Salvador who were granted so-called Temporary Protected Status, upheld a lower court ruling that barred their applications for permanent residency, also known as a green card, because of their unlawful entry.
The case could affect 400,000 immigrants, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for years.
Biden, who has sought to reverse many of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, had opposed the immigrants in this case, placing the president at odds with immigration advocacy groups and some of his fellow Democrats.
The Biden administration is facing a massive crisis at the southern border, which includes record-high levels of illegal crossers and all-time high numbers of unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody.
In March, Biden put Harris in charge of the migration crisis – but the administration has still not referred to the situation as such.
As it appeared the problem wasn’t going anywhere at the southern border, the administration quickly rebranded to indicate Harris is focused on addressing root causes that lead to mass migration to the U.S. from Northern Triangle countries – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Reports show the vice president’s office didn’t want to give her something that could be seen as a failure on her part.
Since taking over, Republicans have slammed the vice president for not once visiting the southern border, where enforcement groups are overwhelmed and facilities reached near 2,000 per cent capacity at some points.
Harris said she will go to Mexico during her trip south of the border, but maintained that she will still not stop at the U.S. side of the border.
She has also already spoken on the phone with Guatemalan President Giammattei and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Harris is meeting with Giammattei on Monday and will afterwards engage in events with Guatemalan community leaders and entrepreneurs afterwards.
On Tuesday, she will travel to Mexico City to meet with President López Obrador and participate in roundtables with women entrepreneurs and labor leaders in Mexico.
People protesting the Guatemalan government hold signs during Harris and Giammattei’s bilateral meeting
Supreme Court unanimously BLOCKS 400,000 immigrants who entered the US illegally and were allowed to stay on ‘humanitarian grounds’ from applying for a green card
The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously refused to let immigrants who have been allowed to stay in the United States on humanitarian grounds apply to become permanent residents if they entered the country illegally, siding with President Joe Biden’s administration.
The justices, acting in an appeal by a married couple from El Salvador who were granted so-called Temporary Protected Status, upheld a lower court ruling that barred their applications for permanent residency, also known as a green card, because of their unlawful entry.
The case could affect 400,000 immigrants, many of whom have lived in the United States for years.
The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously refused to let immigrants who have been allowed to stay in the United States on humanitarian grounds apply to become permanent residents if they entered the country illegally. The case involves Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez from El Salvador (above), who entered the US twice illegally
Biden, who has sought to reverse many of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, had opposed the immigrants in this case, placing the president at odds with immigration advocacy groups and some of his fellow Democrats.
A federal law called the Immigration and Nationality Act generally requires that people seeking to become permanent residents have been ‘inspected and admitted’ into the United States. At issue in the case was whether a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which gives the recipient ‘lawful status,’ satisfies those requirements.
Writing for the court, liberal Justice Elena Kagan said that ‘because a grant of TPS does not come with a ticket of admission, it does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of an unlawful entry.’
Foreign nationals can be granted Temporary Protected Status if a humanitarian crisis in their home country, such as a natural disaster or armed conflict, would make their return unsafe.
There are about 400,000 people in the United States with protected status, which prevents deportation and lets them work legally.
The case involves Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, who live in New Jersey and have four children.
The couple twice entered the United States illegally: in 1997 and 1998. After a series of earthquakes in 2001, the United States designated El Salvador as covered under the Temporary Protected Status program. The couple received protection under the program that same year.
Biden, who has sought to reverse many of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, had opposed the immigrants in this case, placing the president at odds with immigration advocacy groups and some of his fellow Democrats
U.S. officials rejected their 2014 applications for green cards because they had not been lawfully admitted.
They sued in federal court, saying that those with lawful status, including Temporary Protected Status recipients, are deemed to have been lawfully admitted, and may apply for permanent residency.
Last year, the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the couple.
Besides El Salvador, 11 other countries currently have such designations: Haiti, Honduras, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Myanmar was the latest addition to the list, placed there by Biden’s administration in the wake of a Feb. 1 military coup there.
The Supreme Court ruled in the case on a day when U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits Guatemala as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to lower migration to the United States from that country as well as El Salvador and Honduras.
Conservative justice Clarence Thomas initially suggested the Supreme Court would be reluctant to let immigrants with protected status apply for permanent residency when the case was first presented to the court on April 19.
‘They clearly were not admitted at the borders, so is that a fiction, is it metaphysical, what is it? I don’t know,’ conservative Justice Clarence Thomas asked.