Vice President Harris appeared to place blame on the Trump administration over the crisis at the southern border, after laughing off a question on if she intended to visit the region.
Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force Two en route from Jacksonville, Fla., to Washington DC Monday afternoon, Harris made the remarks after being asked what the administration could do in the short term to ensure that migrant children were treated humanely.
“I mean, first of all, we were left with a very challenging situation,” the vice president began.
“I think we all agree — and Secretary Mayorkas said it a number of times this weekend — let’s get these kids out of CBP custody, get them into HHS custody,” she continued, referencing the reports that children are being held longer than the legal limit in Customs and Border Protection custody.
“We’ve got to treat this issue in a way that is reflective of our values as Americans and do it in a way that is fair and is humane. But we have to meet the moment. And there’s a lot of work going into that, and we expect to have success, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”
“I mean, again, we were presented, when we came in, with some serious challenges.”
Harris did not elaborate on what “challenges” she was referring to, nor did she reference the previous administration by name, but her comments echo that of President Biden and other members of the administration.
The Biden administration’s efforts to undo former President Donald Trump’s border policies have prompted a flood of Central American and Mexican illegal migrants at the US border, including thousands of unescorted children.
Central Americans looking for refuge from the Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — have taken these policy moves, as well as the overwhelmingly more welcoming tone from Democrats, as a sign that this president is inviting them to cross the border.
Insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier this month that the problems the agency faced should be blamed on the previous administration.
However, data overwhelmingly shows that migrants were flooding the border because they believed Biden would welcome them with open arms.
While speaking to reporters Sunday, Biden admitted that “a lot more” could be done to quell the crisis.
“We’re in the process of doing it now, including making sure that we re-establish what existed before, which was they can stay in place and make their case from their home country,” he continued.
During that same conversation with reporters Monday, Harris belly laughed after being asked if she planned to visit the border, saying, “Not today, but I have before, and I’m sure I will again.”
In 2018, Harris traveled to the border and conducted interviews with media as then-President Trump faced scrutiny over his handling of the migrant influx.
At the time, Trump was dealing with the backlash over his administration’s use of family separation to deter migration surges.