June 25 (UPI) — After weeks of criticism, Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday visited the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time since taking office, calling for a solution to the “root causes” of immigration.
Harris left Washington, D.C., early Friday morning for El Paso, Texas, where she toured the border patrol station and meet with faith-based, homeless and legal immigration advocates, the White House said.
She told reporters she met with five young Central American girls at the El Paso processing center.
“They were without their parents. They are also full of hope. They were asking me questions: ‘How do you become the first woman vice president?'” she said.
“But it also reminds me of the fact that this issue cannot be reduced to a political issue. We’re talking about children. We’re talking about families. We’re talking about suffering. And our approach has to be thoughtful and effective.”
Harris was accompanied on the trip by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who represents the El Paso area.
Harris was scheduled to leave Texas for Los Angeles in her home state of California, where she will spend Friday night.
In March, President Joe Biden tasked Harris with leading his administration’s efforts to stem increases in migration from Latin America to the southern U.S. border — including thousands of unaccompanied minors.
The number of migrants who have arrived at the border this year is already the most since 2006, according to government data.
Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month as part of her role of leading diplomatic efforts to stem immigration. She described the visits as efforts to target the root causes of unlawful migration.
For weeks, Harris has faced criticism for not traveling to the border as Biden’s top immigration official. While in Mexico, she had promised to visit the border soon.
Addressing the criticism, she told reporters Friday, “It was always the plan to come” to the border. “And I think we’re going to have a good and productive day.”