(Headline USA) Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday will make her first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, her office announced, after she has faced criticism from members of both parties for failing to go there despite her alleged role leading the Biden administration’s response to a steep increase in migration.
The visit comes as Harris has faced months of attacks from Republicans, and even some frustration from those in her own party, for declining to visit the area.
Harris has been tasked by President Joe Biden with taking on the crisis, which has seen hundreds of thousands of illegals cross the border.
Her aides have repeatedly insisted her focus is distinct from the security issues that plague U.S. officials trying to handle a spike in border crossings.
Both Harris and Biden have been absent on the crisis at the border.
The issue overshadowed Harris’s first foreign trip earlier this month, to Guatemala and Mexico, where she met with both nations’ presidents and local officials and advocates to discuss economic and humanitarian solutions to the significant outmigration from both countries.
Harris and White House aides in Washington were forced to parry repeated questions from the press about why she left a border visit off the trip.
Harris has noted that as a senator from California, she has visited the border in the past, and she has asserted that unless the root causes of migration are addressed the situation at the border will never be fixed.
On her visit to Guatemala and Mexico this month, she urged Central Americans not to try to reach the U.S. border.
She tried to give people a sense of hope that would encourage them to stay home.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 180,000 encounters on the Mexican border in May, the most since March 2000.
Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana and about a dozen members of the conservative Republican Study Committee he leads will also join the trip.
Trump immediately took credit for Harris’s trip, speculating in a statement that the vice president would not have made plans to go if Trump hadn’t been headed there himself.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.