White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Vice President Harris’ focus “is not on the border” but “on a diplomatic level” after President Biden appointed her point person to address root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki to clarify Harris’ recent remarks that she had not made any migrant crisis-related trips due to coronavirus risks.
“Well, I would certainly have to ask her team about that specifically, but I would tell you also that her focus is not on the border. It’s on addressing the root causes in the Northern Triangle,” Psaki said.
“That’s why the majority of her time has been spent on working on a diplomatic level. She is going to have a bilateral meeting with the president of Guatemala this afternoon. She’s going to speak with the president of Mexico next week, and she’s working with them to ensure there are systems put in place to reduce the amount of migration coming from these countries, but also to address the root causes. And that’s really what the president asked her to do,” the press secretary added.
Psaki implied that Harris may not travel to the border for security reasons, although the vice president has recently made trips to states like Colorado and Illinois.
“If a president or a vice president goes down and visits a facility like this, you have to potentially clear some parts out. There’s a lot of security that comes. Our focus here is on solutions, on making progress, on moving these kids out of facilities,” Psaki said.
Doocy also asked about news that copies of Harris’ children’s book “Superheroes Are Everywhere,” published in 2019, were given to migrant children arriving in the U.S.
“Of the vice president’s book? I’d have to check with our Health and Human Services team,” Psaki said.
“I’d have to certainly check on that. I hear it’s a good book,” she later said.
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.”
“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 added.
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.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.