Vice President Harris visits El Paso, makes unexpected stop to meet unaccompanied minors

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Before she departed El Paso on Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris said that immigration cannot be reduced to a political issue and required “meaningful, good public policy” to create a fair immigration system.

“We’re talking about your children, we’re talking about families, we’re talking about suffering. And our approach has to be thoughtful and effective,” Harris told members of the press at the El Paso International Airport before leaving for Los Angeles. “And we can take all of these perspectives into account and have meaningful, good public policy. If we just stop the rhetoric and finger-pointing and do what we need to do. … Let’s do the work of agreeing that you can’t just react to a problem without solving it at its roots.

She also mentioned that the choice to visit El Paso made sense because the Sun City highlights many immigration issues.

“It is here in El Paso, that the previous administration, child separation policy was unveiled, as we’ve seen the disastrous effects of that, right here in this region,” Harris said. “It is here in El Paso, that the return to Mexico policy from the previous administration was implemented and we have seen the disaster that resulted from that here in El Paso.”

Harris mentioned her earlier trip to Guatemala and Mexico, saying that to create a fair immigration system, a holistic approach that deals with the root cause of why immigrants are leaving their home countries must be addressed.

Harris arrived in El Paso around 7:45 a.m. on Friday, stopping to speak with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) before addressing reporters on the tarmac at EPIA.

“We are here today to address and to talk about what has brought people to the U.S. border and again to continue to address the root causes which caused people to leave and often flee their home country,” Harris said.

Harris then went to the migrant processing facility on Hondo Pass in Northeast El Paso, arriving around 8:15 a.m. The vice president was briefed by Border Patrol agents and given a tour of the processing facility, where she met with five young girls from Central America. She left the facility around 9:25 a.m. and then headed to the Paso Del Norte Bridge.

At the unexpected stop at the PDN bridge, Harris toured where asylum seekers are screened when coming from Mexico to the U.S., as well as a secondary migrant processing facility and the area of the bridge where vehicles cross and are inspected when crossing from Juarez.

Harris left the Paso Del Norte bridge at 10:01 a.m., and arrived back at the airport around 10:20 a.m., where she met attended a roundtable discussion with advocates, non-profits and those who provide shelter and legal services to migrants.

During the round table, she spoke about principles the administration is using as an approach to immigration.

“We have the capacity to give people hope and the belief that help is on the way and so those principles are a large part of what’s informing the work that we’ve been doing addressing the root causes,” Harris said during the round table.

“Our administration, it is important to be clear, is working to create a fair, a functional and a humane immigration system. As you know, we inherited a tough situation,” she said.

Republican officials sent out statements Friday criticizing the vice president’s visit, particularly where she chose to go.

Sen. Ted Cruz said, “I’m glad the Vice President finally made time in her schedule to acknowledge the humanitarian, national security, and public health crisis her administration created – albeit some 800 miles from the epicenter of the crisis.”

Additionally, Mike Joyce, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, said, “By selecting to visit El Paso, Kamala Harris chose the most politically friendly area of the southern border to salvage her own image.”

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