Kamala Harris under pressure to visit the US-Mexico border to tackle a migration spike.
Harris had a testy exchange with a journalist who asked why she had not gone to the US southern boundary. Members of Ms Harris’s own Democratic party meanwhile criticised her after she warned against illegal immigration. On a visit to Mexico on Tuesday, she said Washington aimed to boost economic development in the region. She and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said it was in the interests of both countries to address the root causes of migration. About 178,000 undocumented migrants arrived at the US southern border this April, the highest total in more than two decades.
Ms Harris’ staff initially said the border was part of her portfolio when US President Biden assigned her in March to stem migration from Latin America. But aides have recently been seeking to distance Ms Harris from the politically toxic crisis. In an interview with NBC News, Ms Harris was asked whether she had any plans to visit the border, she threw up her arms and responded: “At some point. You know… we are going to the border. We have been to the border.”
An assistant to Ms Harris later said she pledged $ 130million (£ 92million) in US aid to support Mexican workers’ rights. She has already pledged $ 310 million to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and hurricanes last year in Central America.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said she did not have a timeline for a potential trip, but emphasized Harris’ job was to focus on the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. “Her assignment was to work with countries and leaders in the Northern Triangle to address root causes, address corruption, and sure, we’re working together to address humanitarian concerns,” Psaki told reporters at the White House.