(The Center Square) – Vice President Kamala Harris and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will visit the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday, Harris' first trip there since illegal border crossings began spiking in January.
Wednesday's announcement of the visit to El Paso also comes just days after more than 55 House Republicans demanded she be removed as border czar, a task President Joe Biden assigned her with three months ago.
Texas Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Loredo, have been asking Harris to tour Texas' southern border for months.
“Thank you, VP Harris, for answering the call to action from my invitation to the southern border," Cuellar wrote on Twitter Wednesday upon hearing of her trip. "By understanding the challenges faced on the ground, our government will be able to effectively address the pull factors leading migrants to make this dangerous journey.”
In the last six months, about one million people have been apprehended by Border Patrol agents along the southern border coming from more than 150 countries. Another 100,000 are estimated to have entered illegally who evaded law enforcement.
In the last several months, neither Harris nor Biden have replied to multiple requests from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton to enforce existing immigration law, claiming the Biden administration's new policies have led to the increases.
Former President Donald Trump, who plans to visit the border June 30, questioned the timing of Harris' decision in a statement.
"If Governor Abbott and I weren’t going there next week, she would have never gone,” Trump said.
"After months of ignoring the crisis at the Southern Border, it is great that we got Kamala Harris to finally go and see the tremendous destruction and death that they've created – a direct result of Biden ending my very tough but fair Border policies," Trump continued. "Harris and Biden were given the strongest Border in American history. And now, it is by far the worst in American history."
Abbott, who launched Operation Lone Star in March to utilize state resources to assist federal agents with border security, said that by visiting El Paso, Harris will be avoiding the areas impacted the most by the spike in illegal immigration.
"Vice President Harris is ignoring the real problem areas along our southern border that are not protected by the border wall and are being overrun by the federal government's ill-thought-out open border policies," Abbott said. "She will fail in her mission if she refuses to speak to residents of the Del Rio sector whose homes and ranches are being overrun by gangs and smugglers."
Several Texas counties have issued disaster declarations because of escalated crime in their communities resulting from a surge in illegal immigration since the beginning of the year.
"The Vice President was named Border Czar over 90 days ago, and in that time Texans have had their homes broken into, property damaged, and guns pointed at their heads as cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers profit off the Biden Administration’s reckless open-border policies," Abbott said. "I launched Operation Lone Star in March to combat this record-high influx of people and crime, and since then DPS has arrested over 1,700 criminals, apprehended over 41,000 migrants, and seized enough fentanyl to kill over 21 million people."
In a statement, Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders confirmed the visit, noting that the vice president already has visited Guatemala and Mexico as part of the administration's efforts to curb the spike illegal immigration.
"Earlier this year, the President asked the Vice President to oversee our diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras," Sanders said. "As a part of this ongoing work, the Vice President traveled to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month and will travel to El Paso on Friday."