Remarks by Vice President Harris, Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, Chairman Durbin, and Representative Escobar in Press Gaggle
El Paso International Airport
El Paso, Texas
8:06 A.M. MDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. Well, it’s good to be back in Texas. And I am honored to be joined by Secretary Mayorkas, by Chairman Durbin, by Congresswoman Escobar.
We have a day planned that will be about, as much as anything, addressing the effects of what I’ve already been addressing, which are the root causes of migration, predominantly out of Central America.
You’ve heard me say many times: Most people don’t want to leave home. And when they do, it is usually because either they are fleeing some type of harm or they cannot take care of the simple and basic needs of their family by staying where they are.
And so, we are here today to address and to talk about what has brought people to the U.S. border, and, again, to continue to address the root causes which caused people to leave and often flee their home country.
So I’m proud and honored to be with these great leaders. Secretary, I’ll let you say a few words and then Chairman, Madam Congresswoman.
SECRETARY MAYORKAS: Thank you very much. To build on Madam Vice President’s comments: As everyone knows, migration involves a continuum. The Vice President is leading our nation’s efforts to address the root causes — that fundamental question of why people leave their homes.
And it is my responsibility as the Secretary of Homeland Security to address the security and management of our border.
As everyone knows, we faced significant challenges back in March; we’ve made extraordinary progress. I look forward to sharing with the Vice President the progress we’ve made, the work that remains. And I look forward to today. Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Chairman.
CHAIRMAN DURBIN: Immigration is a critical element in the history and the future of the United States. But when you look at the challenges of immigration today, one of the greatest challenges is Congress has failed to pass any significant change in immigration laws in 35 years. We have a broken immigration system. Many people complain about it, but it’s up to Congress to do something about it.
As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I take that responsibility very seriously. I’m glad to be back in El Paso. I’m glad to be here with the Vice President. I’m glad that she’s taking the initiative, under the direction of President Biden, so that we can take an honest look at the challenge of immigration today.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE ESCOBAR: Thank you. Well, good morning, everyone. Welcome to El Paso. Welcome to my community, to the new Ellis Island, to the capital of the border. I am standing before you with a heart full of gratitude.
Madam Vice President, thank you for being here. So grateful to Secretary Mayorkas, to Chairman Durbin, and to all of you for making the journey.
This is a really important day. And I have a heart full of gratitude because we finally have an administration willing to tackle the big challenges — challenges that our country has dealt with for decades — willing to tackle challenges in a meaningful, thoughtful, strategic, compassionate way. And that means starting with root causes and understanding what’s driving people from their home, what’s making them arrive at our nation’s front door.
And El Paso’s front door is one that has always been one of dignity and humanity and compassion.
And so, I look forward to today and everything that we will all learn and explore together. Thank you.
WHITE HOUSE AIDE: We have time for about one question.
Q Madam Vice President, how did you decide that right now was the right now was the right time to make your first trip to the border?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s not my first trip. I’ve —
Q As Vice President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — been to the border many times.
Q As the person in charge of the response.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So, the important aspect of this visit is leading this visit after the work that we did in Guatemala and Mexico. Because as I’ve long said — I said back in March I was going to come to the border. So this is not a new plan.
But the reality of it is that we have to deal with causes and we have to deal with the effects. So, being in Guatemala, being in Mexico — talking with Mexico as a partner, frankly, on the issue — was about addressing the causes.
And then coming to the border at the — at the advice and the — and, actually, the invitation of the Congresswoman is about looking at the effects of what we have seen happening in Central America.
And so, I’m glad to be here. It was always the plan to come here. And I think we’re going to have a good and productive day.
(Inaudible.) Thank you.
8:11 A.M. MDT