“We inherited a tough situation,” she said, as she noted El Paso is where the controversial child separation policy began under the Trump administration. “In five months we’ve made progress.”
“Our administration — it is important to be clear — is working to build a fair and a functional and a humane immigration system,” Harris said while meeting with faith-based organizations and shelter and legal service providers.
“We have looked at a system where people have been housed in inhumane conditions over the last many years, an asylum system that has been broken and needs to be reconstructed,” Harris said.
She also argued that she had visited El Paso over other border regions because it was at the heart of Trump-era immigration restrictions.
“It is here in El Paso that the previous administration’s child separation policy was unveiled. And so we’ve seen the disastrous effects of that right here in this region,” the vice president said during a briefing after her visit. “It is here in El Paso that the Return-to-Mexico policy from the previous administration was implemented. We have seen the disaster that resulted from that here in El Paso.”
Critics had wondered why Harris would visit El Paso if her job leading the migration crisis was to address root causes. Most illegal border crossers caught in El Paso are from Mexico, not Central America. The Rio Grande Valley, which is much closer to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, is typically where migrants from those countries arrive.
More than 180,000 migrants were apprehended at the southern border in May, an increase over the 178,000 encountered in April and 173,000 were encountered in March — all representing the highest numbers in years. March saw a big increase from the 100,000 migrants encountered in February.
May 2020, the height of the coronavirus pandemic, saw just over 23,000 migrant encounters, with approximately 144,000 in May 2019.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.