Since Joe Biden put VP Harris in charge of the border migration back on March 24, 2021, VP Harris hasn't conducted a visit to the border. I am under the impression that it would be helpful for her to visit the border to learn first-hand what she could do to help.

Has the Biden administration given any indication as to why she can be given such a position and not visit the border to see everything that's happening there in person?

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    Laughing at the idea that the only alternatives available to the actual VP of the US are "go there herself" or "rely on TV footage". She has the entire machinery of government available to her. May 20, 2021 at 19:01
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    @DanielRoseman when we talk about the border themselves, you are right. When we talk about making a statement about the border, it is VP who can make a statement by visiting or not visiting the particular place.
    – fraxinus
    May 21, 2021 at 11:08

3 Answers 3


This question, or something similar, has been put to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki a number of times over the past couple of months. The common theme of the responses is that VP Harris' brief is more to do with addressing the root cause of migrants arriving at the border at the source - by engaging with political leaders in Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), as well as Mexico. The Press Secretary has also dismissed criticism of the lack of border visits as "political games", and has repeatedly emphasised that the administration is more focused on "solutions".

Firstly, on April 14th, Psaki was asked why VP Harris' first trip abroad, to Guatemala and Mexico (mentioned in Machavity's answer) wouldn't take in the border. In her reply, Psaki defends Harris' itinerary, and makes the point that border visits have been carried out by other members of the Biden administration:

Well, what the President has asked the Vice President to do is run point on the Northern Triangle and be a high-level conduit in having discussions with leaders in the region. That’s exactly what she is doing and will do when she goes and visits countries in the region. And obviously, she’s had discussions, that have been read out, as well, with some leaders in the region.

Secretary of Homeland Security has visited the border. Our Secretary — other secretaries who run point on these issues will and, we expect, will in the future.

More recently, on May 12th, Psaki responded to a journalist who repeated the pleas of a couple who rescued five migrant children for Biden to visit the border:

Our focus remains on solutions, on ensuring we’re expediting processing, we’re getting kids into safe and humane conditions, and that’s — if going to the border changed that or helped that, that would be one thing. But our focus is on implementing pieces that we can — so we can make their lives better.

Finally, on May 14th, a journalist pointed out criticisms of President Biden and VP Harris' lack of visits to the border. Psaki reiterated her earlier point, saying that the administration is focused on solutions - and makes the point that some statistics at the border have been improving to justify this approach:

Okay. Well, the President’s focus and the Vice President’s focus is on solutions. And what our — what we’ve seen over the past several months is that, while we came in and there were — was little preparation for what was going to be a surge of migrants at the border, what we’ve done since then is rapid — or is massively reduced the number of children who are at Border Patrol facilities from over 5,000 to under 1,000 — the pro- — the number is probably even lower than that now — and massively reduced the number of hours that these children are spending in these facilities.

So, our focus is on working in — through the interagency process, pressing to eliminate bureaucracy, and making sure that we’re taking steps that treat them in a humane and moral way. And we’re less worried about press conferences or political games that are being played by some.


There's nothing explicit there, but the strong implication has been that Harris' job is not to fix the border itself, but the circumstances causing people to cross it in the first place. To that end, the administration has touted trips to countries involved in the migrant crisis (emphasis mine)

Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Mexico and Guatemala on June 7 and 8, she said during a visit to Rhode Island on Wednesday. This will be Harris' first trip abroad as vice president.

The White House said at the time that Harris would work on "stemming the flow of irregular migrants to the U.S.," while at the same time working toward the goal of establishing a strategic partnership with these countries.

In another briefing, Harris said this

“The focus that we are bringing to our work in the Northern Triangle is really about assessing and figuring out what we might do to encourage economic development, addressing what we know is present there in terms of the need to address issues that relate to integrity of government, rule of law and corruption, but looking at it also in the context of what we can do with the resources we have to assist on issues like agriculture, farming, water irrigation,” she said.

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    Why wait until June 7?
    – Jacob3
    May 20, 2021 at 14:04
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    @Jacob3 It's likely to accommodate an official in-person diplomatic visit (i.e. security, logistics, etc). It's all but certain at least some of the White House press corps travels with her to cover it.
    – Machavity
    May 20, 2021 at 14:07
  • I like this answer, but then I reread the OP's "Since Joe Biden put VP Harris in charge of the border" and thought this was too subtle a response. May 21, 2021 at 23:59

To put a point on it, she's not in charge of the border migration. She's not the border czar. You've been trolled by people telling you she was.

I'll use bread&butter Newsweek's April 23rd "Kamala Harris Slammed" article for quotes: "Harris would lead the administration's efforts with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to both curb the current flow of migrants and implement long-term strategies that would address the root causes". That makes sense. The main problem has been so many people, a great number children, fleeing for their lives, asking for asylum. It's not a problem bigger and better walls can solve. Border guards work hard, but they need the politicians to stem the tide at the source. But not just anyone can usefully talk 1-on-1 with the leaders of other countries. You need a high-ranking official, a decision-maker, like a VP. It's the right place to send someone, and a great person to send, and to me it makes complete sense what her job is and isn't.

Meanwhile, if you want a border czar you appoint just some guy. Even Trump did that. Sure, VP Pence was the "coronavirus czar", but that was a crippling problem affecting every state. You don't waste the 2nd most powerful person in the world on a minor regional problem. Who would think that? But back to NewsWeek: "The GOP, on the other hand, has declared Harris the nation's "border czar"". Oh, the Republicans think that, or they want you to think that. They're the mudslingers saying "let's make-up what her job isn't so we can say she's not doing it".


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