VP Kamala Harris departs D.C. for first trip to U.S.-Mexico border

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Vice President Kamala Harris walks to board Air Force Two at Dobbins Air Force Base, in Marietta, Ga., on March 19. Friday, she departed Washington, D.C., to visit the U.S.-Mexico border. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Vice President Kamala Harris walks to board Air Force Two at Dobbins Air Force Base, in Marietta, Ga., on March 19. Friday, she departed Washington, D.C., to visit the U.S.-Mexico border. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

June 25 (UPI) -- After weeks of criticism, Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday will visit the U.S.-Mexico border for the first time since taking office to size up the immigration situation there, officials say.

Harris left Washington, D.C., early Friday morning for El Paso, Texas, where she will tour the border patrol station and meet with faith-based, homeless and legal immigration advocates, the White House said.

She's accompanied on the trip by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who represents the El Paso area.

Harris is scheduled to speak and take press questions at 11:35 a.m. MDT at the El Paso International Airport before leaving for Los Angeles in her home state of California, where she will spend Friday night.

In March, President Joe Biden tasked Harris with leading his administration's efforts to stem increases in migration from Latin America to the southern U.S. border -- including thousands of unaccompanied minors.

The number of migrants who have arrived at the border this year is already the most since 2006, according to government data.

Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month as part of her role as immigration czar. She described the visits as efforts to target the root causes of unlawful migration.

For weeks, Harris has faced criticism for not traveling to the border as Biden's top immigration official. While in Mexico, she had promised to visit the border soon.

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