What Happened During Kamala Harris Trip to U.S./Mexico Border

Live Updates

Vice President Kamala Harris made her first trip down to the U.S.-Mexico border Friday.

Harris was joined by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Democratic Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar in El Paso, Texas.

This visit comes after mounting criticism from the right that the vice president had not yet visited the border, as Biden's first few months in office have seen a record number of migrants attempting to cross the southern border.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were more than 180,000 encounters on the Mexican border in May, the most since March 2000.

Others have criticized the trip as politically motivated, as Harris' visit was announced shortly after former President Donald Trump said he would journey to the border with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other GOP lawmakers.

Sanders told reporters Thursday that "this administration does not take their cues from Republican criticism, nor from the former President of the United States of America."

Upon her arrival, Harris said she was always planning to visit the border. This trip comes on the heels of the vice president's recent trip to Mexico and Guatemala.

"I said back in March I was gonna come to the border, so this is not a new plan, but the reality of it is that we have to deal with causes and we have to deal with the effects," she said.

The group toured a migrant processing facility where they spoke with Customs and Border Patrol agents about technological upgrades and Harris met with five unaccompanied minors.

"In five months we've made progress, but there's still more work to be done, but we've made progress," Harris said.

Harris then made an unscheduled visit to Paso del Norte Port of Entry along the border.

The vice president then met with a group of leaders from NGOs, social services and legal providers working on the ground to help migrants.

She reemphasized the focus on addressing the root causes that led people to flee their homes in Central and South American to migrate to the United States.

"Most people do not want to leave their homes," she said. And if they do, it is "because they fleeing some harm or because staying home means they cannot satisfy the basic needs of their family."

At a press conference to conclude her trip, Harris urged lawmakers to employ a "sense of humanity" when addressing immigration reform and migrants at the border.

Harris Trip to Border
US Vice President Kamala Harris participates in a roundtable discussion with advocates from faith-based NGOs and shelters and legal service providers, during a visit to the Paso del Norte Port of Entry on June 25, 2021 in El Paso, Texas. - Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling in El Paso, Texas on Friday, where she will tour a Customs and Border Protection processing facility, meeting with advocates and NGOs. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The live updates for this event has ended.

Senator Durbin urges Congress to act on immigration reform

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said his trip with Vice President Harris in El Paso, Texas Friday demonstrated the "carry and commitment" the Harris and the Biden administration have to "meaningful immigration reform."

At a press conference to conclude the trip along the border with Harris, Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Drubin urged Congress to act in a bipartisan way to address immigration.

"Congress needs to do its part when it comes to immigration reform," Durbin, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said.

"Everyone complains" about the system, he said, "but when it comes to dealing with it, they don't want to lift a finger."

Representative Escobar, who represents El Paso in Texas' 16th district, echoed Durbin's message to Congress.

"Congress has an important role," she said, noting immigration legislation the House has passed. "But we need to get support from the Senate to make this happen. We have to re-envision the way we greet migrants" coming into the United States.

She added that "we need permanent, meaningful and positive change."

Harris says we've "made progress" along the border

Vice President Harris said she believes the administration and the Customs and Border Patrol agents are "making progress" in their efforts to ensure the immigration system is "orderly and humane."

However, during a press conference after meeting with CBP agents and social service leaders, she noted that "we are not where we want to be yet."

Harris said that when talking about the border, "let's not lose sight that we are talking about human beings."

She added that she heard "stories involving horrendous tales of abuse, fear and harm" for migrants in their home countries but also along the path of migration.

Therefore, Harris implored that lawmakers have a "sense of humanity" and address immigration issues in a way that is "informed by fact, reality and a perspective dedicated to addressing problems in the most constructive way."

Harris also mentioned that she chose to visit El Paso because it "highlights many issues of immigration."

She noted that the city was the site of the Trump administration's child separation and "return to Mexico" policies. However, Harris said that the issues on the border should not be political or discussed through "rhetoric and finger-pointing."

"This was an important trip that connects with the obvious point, if you want to deal with problems, you cannot just deal with the symptoms," Harris said. "You have to figure out what caused it."

Harris says "people don't want to leave their homes" ahead of meeting with NGO leaders

Vice President Harris is now meeting with leaders of faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social service advocates and legal providers who work along the border.

Harris told the press that the Biden administration will partner with Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. She said they "signed a memorandum of understanding about the investments into resources and priorities each of our countries will put into addressing the issues in Central America," focusing on Haundrus, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Harris is holding a roundtable with faith-based NGOs, service and legal providers. “We inherited a tough situation,” Harris said. “In 5 months we’ve made progress, but there’s still more work to be done, but we’ve made progress.” pic.twitter.com/TVlERYf9AY

— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) June 25, 2021

Harris said the administration is approaching their work on migration with two principles.

The first, she said, was that "most people do not want to leave their homes."

"They don't want to leave their culture, their language, their church, their abuelas," Harris said.

And so when they do, she continued, it is "because they fleeing some harm or because staying home means they cannot satisfy the basic needs of their family."

The second principle, Harris said, is that "we have the capacity to give people hope and a belief that help is on the way."

Ahead of their meeting Friday, Harris said she wants to "hear from leaders on the ground."

"It is very important to the president and me that we maintain not only access but a role for you leaders to participate in our leadership around what needs to be down," she said.

Harris Meets with NGO Leaders
US Vice President Kamala Harris participates in a roundtable discussion with advocates from faith-based NGOs and shelter and legal service providers, during a visit to the Paso del Norte Port of Entry on June 25, 2021 in El Paso, Texas. - Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling in El Paso, Texas on Friday, where she will tour a Customs and Border Protection processing facility, meeting with advocates and NGOs. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Harris tells reporters this "is not my first trip" to the border

Vice President Harris told reporters Friday that "it's not my first trip" to the U.S.-Mexico border ahead of her long-awaited visit.

When she arrived in El Paso, Texas, Harris was asked why she decided right now was the right time to make her first visit to the border.

Harris responded saying, "Well, it's not my first trip. I've been to the border many times."

Watch: Kamala Harris Shuts Down Reporter's Question On Border: 'It's Not My First Trip' | Thumb credit: C-SPANhttps://t.co/SZ6lXO4h3l pic.twitter.com/X5G9z4JaQ4

— Newsweek (@Newsweek) June 25, 2021

Read more here.

Harris staffers resign

Two of Kamala Harris' staffers in charge of coordinating trips for the vice president are resigning as she visits the southern border.

Karly Satkowiak, Harris' director of advance, and Gabrielle DeFranceschi, Harris' deputy director of advance, have both told the vice president's office they plan to leave in the coming weeks, The New York Times reported.

Staffers on the advance team are responsible for planning the vice president's trips, surveying venues for Harris to visits and working with local officials to prepare venues for the media.

Read more here.

Harris heads to port of entry on the border

Vice President Harris left the CBP facility at around 9:20 a.m. local time.

While inside, the vice president met with five young girls from Central America.

"They drew pictures for her and they told the vice president what they wanted to be when they grow up," Harris' office told pool reporters.

The press was not present for this interaction.

Harris is now making a previously unannounced trip to the Paso del Norte (PDN) Port of Entry in El Paso.

"On the stop, she will tour an area for screening of asylum applicants as they enter from Mexico, view a secondary processing area for migrants, and inspect an outdoor vehicle inspection area used to screen vehicles crossing the border for illegal goods or activities," the vice president's office told reporters.

The Paso del Norte Port of Entry is one of the country's busiest pedestrian border crossings and is located on the Paso Del Norte International Bridge.

CBP agents tell Harris new technology is a "game changer" for processing

According to pool reports, everyone, including the press, wore masks at the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility when the Vice President arrived.

Harris could be heard discussing appropriations and medical costs with agents in their initial discussion.

One agent told the vice president that El Paso is a "very vibrant city" during the conversation and an agent told the officials that they are working on a plan to get up to 100 percent vehicle scanning.

Harris continued her tour inside of the processing center, asking agents at computers about their work.

The agents told her that new technology has streamlined processing at the facility, according to pool reports.

Agents said that they are trying to lessen paperwork and cut down on work for agents and intake processing time with new technology.

"I would imagine it also increases the accuracy," Harris said

One agent explained that the new technology is "a game-changer" when it comes to process and "the flow of people"

Harris said they have made "incredible advances" in a short time and congratulated them on the effort.

Harris spoke to agents at the CBP facility about how they’ve used technology to streamline processing. Press were taken out after this and we are holding in vans. The rest of her trip includes a discussion w/NGOs and service providers; no plans to visit a detention center. pic.twitter.com/4pAAGvS51l

— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) June 25, 2021

Harris says Texas trip is about causes and effects of migration

Vice President Kamala Harris has arrived in Texas. After she landed, she told reporters that this trip is about dealing with causes and effects of migration.

"We are here today to address and to talk about what has brought people to the U.S. border and to address the root causes which cause people to leave and often flee their home country," Harris said after she departed Air Force Two.

.@VP Kamala Harris arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas after previously telling immigrants "do not come." pic.twitter.com/rjoMsqptZ6

— The Recount (@therecount) June 25, 2021

She said that this trip to Texas is building off the work she did in Mexico and Guatemala.

Harris said that visiting Mexico and Guatemala was about "addressing the causes" and this visit in Texas is about "looking at the effects of what we have seen happening in Central America."

"I'm glad to be here, it was always the plan to come here, and I think we are going to have a good and productive day," she added.

Harris is now speaking with Border Patrol agents at the El Paso Central Processing Center. According to Associated Press reporter Alexandra Jaffe, the vice president is discussing issues such as budgets and how processing migrants works at the station.

Harris chats with agents at the El Paso Central Processing Center. She’s asking them questions about how the processing works here, budgets and other issues. pic.twitter.com/XAilJ7Kaek

— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) June 25, 2021

Protestors with "Trump Won" signs greet Harris at border

As Vice President Kamala Harris arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, protestors gathered with signs that read "Trump Won" and "Latinos Somos Republicano."

Protestors outside Border Patrol station awaiting VP Kamala Harris. @ArmendarizDis16 @ElAmerican_ pic.twitter.com/mTLLRhTL4V

— Informed with Anthony (@InformedAnthony) June 25, 2021

"Kamala, you came a little too late," Congressional candidate Irene Armendariz Jackson said. "We have had this crisis for years. We need solutions, we don't need you parading at the Border Patrol station and acting like you care."

"Americans matter, America matters," she added.