The trip is part of Harris’ effort to ‘deepen the partnership’ between the US and Honduras to combat corruption and migration, as well as advance economic growth, the White House announced Tuesday.
Harris, 57, was tasked by President Joe Biden last year to lead the nation’s border crisis response and has faced widespread criticisms over her efforts within the role.
Republicans have mockingly nicknamed her the ‘border czar’ while also accusing her of being uninterested in actually visiting the US-Mexico border.
Since being named as the point person on the migrant crisis in March, Harris has visited the southern border just once, last June, when she spent a few hours in El Paso, Texas, before jetting off to her $5million Los Angeles mansion.
Meanwhile, illegal crossings at the border have skyrocketed since Biden took office. Customs and Border Protection data shows agents have encountered more than 1.75 million migrants illegally crossing or attempting to seek asylum in the US last year.
Vice President Kamala Harris (left) is traveling to Honduras for the inauguration of President-elect Xiomara Castro (right) in an effort to ‘address the root causes’ of illegal immigration. Analysts claim a productive relationship between the US and Honduras could be particularly useful diplomatically
The trip is part of Harris’ effort to ‘deepen the partnership’ between the US and Honduras to combat corruption and migration, as well as advance economic growth (Pictured: Migrants seeking asylum in El Paso, Texas)
The vice president’s upcoming trip will mark her second trip to a Northern Triangle country since she was tasked with tackling the border crisis.
It is unclear when Harris will depart for Honduras or how long she will be in the country. However, Castro’s inauguration is slated for January 27.
The trip will come about month after Harris announced a deal to provide $540million in new private industry investments in Central America. She attracted seven new companies and organizations to invest in Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Savlador in her effort to improve economic conditions and weed out corruption.
Among them are PepsiCo, Cargill and Parkdale Mills, all of whom pledged roughly $150million towards infrastructure projects. Some existing and expanded investments are coming from Mastercard, Microsoft and Nespresso.
Castro – the leftist opposition party candidate won out over the country’s ruling party in November – allegedly shares common ground with the US government in areas of immigration, drug trafficking and corruption.
Analysts claim a productive relationship between the US and Honduras could be particularly useful diplomatically.
However, critics continue to slam the vice president for focusing her efforts in Central America instead of at the border.
The White House announced the trip Tuesday, which marks the vice president’s second trip to a Northern Triangle country since she was tasked with tackling the border crisis
‘You can have her,’ wrote Twitter user @JustMe73forAll. ‘Kamala should just stay in Honduras. She’s useless and completely unqualified in her position.’
‘Kamala doesn’t have time to comment on Southern border human trafficking, she’s packing for Honduras,’ @ska_texas said.
‘Every day she does not go to the southern border is an absolute boon for the Republicans,’ echoed @AllistarMick. ‘Have at it Kamala!’
‘Oh Kamala just go to the border and do your job PLEASE,’ stated @love_gman.
User @Mas_hoc added: ‘So Kamala is having difficulty defining herself….had she done her job as border Czar and stemmed the tide of illegal crossings, she would be in a much better place.
‘She squandered the opportunity. Lightweight. Incompetent.’
The politician has also come under fire from other progressives after she declared publicly that undocumented migrants were not welcome in the US.
Meanwhile, critics continue to slam the vice president for focusing her efforts in Central America instead of at the border
Her trip to Honduras comes after disturbing images unveiled last week showed dire conditions at Arizona border patrol facilities as tens of thousands of migrants were packed together in overcrowded trailers and makeshift mylar tents.
Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls declared a state of emergency on December 9 after 6,000 people were taken into custody by Border Patrol in the course of five days. The figure equates to the number of migrants intercepted in an average month over the past two decades.
The surge and revelation of overcrowding also came amid a massive surge in infection rates for COVID-19 with the Omicron variant – leading to further questions on the holding conditions in the middle of the pandemic.
After receiving a barrage of criticism, Harris had a phone call with Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei during which she ‘reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to working together with Guatemala on a broad agenda that includes the root causes of migration, trafficking, economic development, and anti-corruption,’ according to a statement from her office.
The call came after Giammattei went public with his dissatisfaction regarding communication over the last several months with the vice president and White House.
Photographs released last week reveal thousands of migrants are stranded in overcrowded border facilities in Yuma, Arizona
People are touching their neighbors as they try to lie down and rest under mylar blankets, while other attempt to traverse a narrow walkway
Makeshift tents of mylar blankets, caution tape and sand bags are set up for overflow holding outside the facilities in Yuma
In November, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered 173,620 migrants at the southern border, an increase from the 164,753 in October. December figures have not yet been released.
Last September, Border Patrol officers encountered more than 192,000 people attempting to cross the border, as opposed to 57,674 and 52,546 in 2020 and 2019, respectively, under then-President Donald Trump.
Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar said last month that he’s done trying to work with the vice president on border issues, as Border Patrol agents continue to record a rise in encounters between illegal immigrants and their officers.
‘I say this very respectfully to her: I moved on,’ Cuellar told The New York Times earlier in the week.
‘She was tasked with that job, it doesn’t look like she’s very interested in this, so we are going to move on to other folks that work on this issue.’
Cuellar’s gripes originated when Harris said she’d be visiting the border in June and a phone call from his office to hers went unreturned.
Also last month, Harris conceded in a televised interview that her ‘biggest failure’ since taking office last January has been ‘not getting out of DC more,’ as she continues to face criticism for making just one visit to the southern border despite the worsening migrant crisis.
The vice president made the remarks after CBS News interviewer Margaret Brennan asked the former California senator an open-ended, introspective question concerning her own perceived shortcomings.
Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar (left) said that he’s done trying to work with Vice President Kamala Harris (right) on border issues
Migrants from Central America climb a hill to avoid immigration authorities as they set off in a caravan for the United States, near the border with Guatemala, in Corinto, Honduras
‘What do you think, as you come to the end of this first year, what do you think your biggest failure has been at this point?’ Brennan asks in a preview clip for the White House-set interview.
In the clip, Harris, 57, seems to laugh off the question at first, before admitting: ‘To not get out of DC more.’
‘I mean, and I actually mean that sincerely for a number of reasons.’
She continued: ‘You know, I, we, the president and I came in, you know, COVID had already started. The pandemic had started. And when we came in we really couldn’t travel.’
‘You know, a large part of the relationship that he and I have built has been being in this, you know, together in the same office for hours on end, doing Zooms or whatever because we couldn’t get out of D.C., and on issues that are about fighting for anything from voting rights to child care, to one of the issues that I care deeply about, maternal health.
‘Being with the people who are directly impacted by this work, listening to them so that they, not some pundit, tells us what their priorities are. I think it’s critically important.’
Since being named as the US’ point person on the migrant crisis in March, Harris has visited the border region just once, more than six months ago in June, when she spent a few hours at the the El Paso US Customs and Border Protection Central Processing Center
Harris is pictured making her one and only visit to the southern border since becoming VP, during a June 2021 trip to El Paso in Texas
‘People are, people have a right to know and believe that their government actually sees and hears them.
‘My biggest concern is, I don’t ever want to be in a bubble when it comes to being aware of and in touch with what people need at any given moment in time.’
Harris’ comments come as she continues to face rampant criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike for being largely withdrawn from the ongoing migrant crisis at the country’s southern border – a predicament that the president asked her to solve.
During Harris’ sole, brief visit to the region, the politician was not brought to the actual border line, but to nearby immigration facilities where she met with migrant girls aged 9-16.
Harris’ other trips out of DC have included visits to Guatemala and Mexico in June, to discuss the ‘root causes’ of the migrant crisis, as well as stops in Vietnam, Singapore, and Japan in August, in a show of solidarity with the Asian countries against China.
The politician also took a trip to France in November in an effort to mend the US’ recently tarnished relationship with its longtime European ally, after the country was left out of the US-UK-Australia deal on submarine technology that was spawned earlier this year.
Harris’ domestic trips, meanwhile, have included stops in Las Vegas, Chicago, Charlotte, the San Francisco Bay Area and Newark, New Jersey – which she visited in October the same day that other top Biden administration officials were in Mexico City to attend a high-level meeting about border issues.