Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Saturday that she will head the National Space Council – although she continues to be criticized for not visiting the southern border as part of her role in dealing with the immigration crisis.
“As I have said before: In America, when we shoot at the moon, we plant our flag on it. I am honored to lead our National Space Council,” Harris tweeted.
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The Space Council was held by the Biden administration after it was re-formed under Donald Trump. It was originally created by the George HW Bush administration, but was disbanded a few years later.
A senior official told reporters that Harris “intends to put his own personal stamp on the council”
While it is not uncommon for vice presidents to have multiple roles and responsibilities, the announcement comes at a time when Harris continues to take the heat for not having visited the border.
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President Biden appointed Harris in March to “lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle” – and she has stressed that her focus is on diplomatic issues related to the region rather than the crisis at the border itself.
However, Republicans and former Trump officials have said such a role is intertwined with the ongoing border crisis, and have questioned why she has not gone there.
“You can not talk to northern triangle countries or to Mexican officials without understanding the pressure and the situation and atmosphere at the border,” former DHS secretary Chad Wolf said recently. “The two are so connected that you can’t handle one without the other.”
Last month, Republicans in the House had a mockup milk carton made with Harris ‘face on it:’ Missing at the border. ‘
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Harris has so far met almost with the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala as well as community leaders and is planning a trip to the region – but not until June.
Critics have blamed the Biden administration for the return of key Trump-era policies such as border wall construction, asylum cooperation agreements with the Northern Triangle countries and the policy remaining in Mexico to help burn the crisis.
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Biden and Harris have accused the Trump administration of emphasizing “fundamental causes” such as poverty and violence.
“And we are therefore looking at a number of issues that also relate to poverty, extreme poverty. And, of course, violence is coming out of these regions,” Harris said last month.