Vice President Harris blamed the former Trump administration and said the situation at the southern border would not be “solved overnight” in an interview Sunday.
“The kind of work that has to happen is the diplomatic work that we have been engaged in, including my calls to the president of Mexico, the president of Guatemala,” Harris said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But it’s not going to be solved overnight. It’s a complex issue. Listen, if this were easy, it would have been handled years ago.”
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“This is about the Western Hemisphere. We are a neighbor in the Western Hemisphere, and it is also about understanding that we have the capacity to actually get in there if we are consistent. Part of the problem is that under the previous administration, they pulled out essentially a lot of what had been the continuum of work, and it essentially came to a standstill,” she said.
Republicans have criticized Harris for not taking a trip to the border or holding a press conference in the month since President Biden dubbed her the point person for the U.S. response to a record surge in migrants.
The White House has emphasized Harris’ role is to address root causes of migration, and she is instead taking trips to Latin American countries to meet with leaders.
By a stark 46-15 percent margin, voters say U.S. border security is worse today than it was two years ago, according to the latest Fox News survey.
Since taking office, Harris has visited states including Illinois, New Hampshire and California, but has not toured the southern border. She told CNN she is planning to visit Central America.
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“We’re working on the plan to get there. We have to deal with COVID issues, but I can’t get there soon enough in terms of personally getting there,” Harris said.
Harris said she’s focused on working with Cabinet members and other officials to “give people some sense of hope that, if they stay, that help is on the way.”
She listed efforts including a virtual trade mission to be convened by the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture helping Central American farmers affected by drought and USAID increasing disaster response following devastating hurricanes in the region.
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“Most people don’t want to leave home, and when they do, it’s usually for one of two reasons. They’re fleeing some harm or they cannot stay and satisfy the basic necessities of life, such as feeding their children and having a roof over their head. That is a big part of what is going on. So I look at the issue of what’s going on in the northern triangle from that perspective,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, the number of migrants being fast-tracked for release without formal immigration court notices at the U.S.-Mexico border has reportedly increased by thousands since March to more than 15,300.
Fox News’ Dana Blanton, Brie Stimson and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.