Harris will leave the country first, scheduled to fly Sunday to Guatemala for talks with President Alejandro Giammattei and other leaders there about the “root causes” of migration.
From there she’s set to travel Monday night to Mexico for similar talks with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his advisers before returning to Washington.
“Part of giving people hope is having a very specific commitment to rooting out corruption in the region,” Harris said recently, according to Bloomberg, referring to one of several root causes of migration she and her office have listed. Other causes include poverty and the effects of severe weather and natural disasters, they have claimed.
In late March, the vice president took on the role of manager of the Biden administration’s response to the migrant crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ever since accepting the assignment, Harris has faced relentless criticism from Republicans – and from some Democrats – for not visiting border communities in the U.S. to learn more about the issues those communities and the Border Patrol agents who work there are dealing with as migrants, including many unaccompanied minors, flood the region and strain resources.
“Kamala Harris should stop at the US border on her way to Mexico and Guatemala tomorrow to see Biden’s record-breaking border crisis firsthand,” GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote on Twitter on Saturday night.
Harris and her defenders in Washington have countered that the vice president’s role was always intended to be a diplomatic assignment in which she would deal with foreign leaders instead of tour U.S. communities.
While neither Biden nor Harris have traveled to U.S. border areas since taking office, the administration has sent other top officials, such as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Come Wednesday it will be President Biden’s turn to represent the U.S. overseas. The president is scheduled to attend the G7 economic summit in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, then he and first lady Jill Biden will meet with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.
The president’s itinerary also includes stops in Belgium for a NATO summit and a meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – and a June 16 face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Biden leaves the country while facing his own share of criticism from Republicans.
Writing on the Fox News website on Saturday, McDaniel pointed to Friday’s federal jobs report, which showed growth figures that were 17% below expectations.
Other Republicans have taken Biden to task, claiming he has appeared weak in dealing with Putin. They’ve pointed to a recent ransomware attack by Russian hackers against a U.S. fuel pipeline – coinciding with Biden’s recent decision to allow Putin to proceed with a pipeline of his own into Europe.
“Biden’s decision … is more than mixed messaging and sloppy decision-making,” U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., recently wrote. “It is a threat to America’s national security.”