WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday that she is planning to visit Mexico and Guatemala as part of her role leading the White House’s efforts to address the root causes of migration to the United States.
“Our focus is to deal with the root causes, and I am looking forward to traveling, hopefully as my first trip, to the Northern Triangle, stopping in Mexico and then going to Guatemala,” Harris said, ahead of a meeting with experts on the Northern Triangle region.
“We have plans in the work to go to Guatemala as soon as possible,” she added.
President Joe Biden tasked Harris in March with leading the administration’s diplomatic efforts in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, part of an effort to help curb migration amid a record number of children arriving at the U.S. border seeking asylum.
The diplomatic role is Harris’ first major policy assignment.
The White House has been forced to clarify the scope of her portfolio in recent weeks, stating on a number of occasions that her assignment does not include addressing the southern border directly. The clarification has come as Republicans have sought to criticize the administration’s handling of migrants at the border, including hundreds of children.
When asked Wednesday by reporters whether she would visit the border, Harris suggested that was not part of her travel plan.
“So, as I mentioned to the experts, the president has asked [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas to address what is going on at the border,” she responded.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the format of Harris’ trip had not yet been finalized.
Harris has held a number of internal meetings on the Northern Triangle in recent weeks, according to aides. In addition to Wednesday’s meeting, she met in the Situation Room on Tuesday with Cabinet members, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland, to discuss migration challenges. She has held calls with foreign officials including the presidents of Mexico and Guatemala.
Harris also helped reach agreements this week with the governments in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to increase enforcement on their borders to help stem the flow of migrants traveling toward the U.S.