VP Harris Still US Border Czar, WH Says as Guatemalan President Claims He Last Contacted Her in June

© REUTERS / KEVIN LAMARQUEU.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announces the Biden-Harris Administration’s Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan during a visit to Prince George's County Brandywine Maintenance Facility in Brandywine, Maryland, U.S., December 13, 2021
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announces the Biden-Harris Administration’s Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan during a visit to Prince George's County Brandywine Maintenance Facility in Brandywine, Maryland, U.S., December 13, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.12.2021
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Earlier this year, Kamala Harris was under fire for appearing to be lackadaisical about migrant-related issues, given that it took the US vice president more than 70 days to visit Guatemala after being assigned the government's point person to tackle immigration.
US Vice President Kamala Harris remains the Biden administration's border czar, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted when responding to a journalist's remarks about the Guatemalan president's recent claims that he hasn't been in touch with any top US official since the summer.

When asked whether Harris is still "in charge of addressing the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala", Psaki told reporters that "she is". The WH spokesperson then referred to "this kind of strange report from the president of Guatemala saying that he's had no contact with the White House, which is inaccurate".

Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemala's Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo wave at her arrival ceremony in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Guatemalan Air Force Central Command - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2021
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The White House spokeswoman argued that the Biden administration has "had a range of conversations" with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, including a meeting that was attended by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington last week. According to Psaki, Washington plans to "continue that high level of engagement".

She spoke after Giammattei told Fox News last week that there had been no direct communication between his government and the White House since Harris visited Guatemala in early June to discuss the "root causes" of the continuing migration crisis on the nation's southern border.

It took Harris more than 70 days to visit the Latin American country after being assigned by President Biden as the point person to tackle immigration on 24 March. During the trip to Guatemala, the vice president was criticised for telling local migrants "not to come" to the US.
In late June, Harris paid a visit to El Paso, Texas, in what remains her one and only visit to the southern border as the nation's point person on migration.
Texas State Troopers walk across the International Bridge as some migrants line up to depart on a bus as thousands of others await to be processed after crossing the Rio Grande river into the U.S. from Ciudad Acuna in Del Rio, Texas, U.S. September 20, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.10.2021
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Conservative critics, however, slammed the vice president for failing to visit Fort Bliss, where the government built the country's largest processing centre for unaccompanied migrant children, and other areas along the southern border hit by the unprecedented amount of migrants.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said her visit took place "800 miles from the epicentre" of the migrant crossings in the Rio Grande Valley, dubbing the VP's border trip "nothing short of a glorified photo-op".

Since assuming office in January, President Joe Biden, who was quick to reverse several tough immigration policies introduced by his predecessor Donald Trump, has been reluctant to publicly call the surge in migration a "crisis", despite the country having already recorded 172,331 land border encounters in the southwest by March 2021.
In the latest development, the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a record 1.7 million migrant apprehensions along the southern border in fiscal 2021.
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