Harris said the administration had not had enough time to fix the situation in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday.
“Well, we do what we need to do to actually reconstruct the systems that are about processing these cases, and that is taking some time. And look, we’ve been in office less than 100 days. We are addressing it. We are dealing with it, but it’s going to take some time, and are we frustrate? Are you frustrated? Yes, we are,” Harris said.
She blamed the Trump administration for the number of children in Border Patrol custody, despite reports that the Biden administration ignored warning signs, including briefings from senior Customs and Border Protection officials, about an impending crisis.
“There was a system in place previously, before the last administration, to allow us to process these kids in their contry of origin. That was dismantled. We have to reconstruct it,” Harris said.
Harris did not call the situation at the border a crisis, but she did call it a “huge problem.”
“It’s a huge problem. I’m not going to pretend it’s not. It’s a huge problem. Are we looking at overcrowding at the border in particular with these kids? Yes. Should these kids be in the custody of HHS, the Health and Human Services, instead of the Border Patrol? Yes. Should we be processing these cases faster? Yes. This is, however, not going to be solved overnight.”
She said she and President Biden would visit the border “at some point.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last week that the U.S. is on track to encounter more migrants than it has in the last 20 years, as he defended the administration’s approach to the border surge.
“The situation at the southwest border is difficult,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “We are working around the clock to manage it and we will continue to do so. That is our job. We are making progress and we are executing on our plan. It will take time and we will not waver in our commitment to succeed.”
He spoke days after Customs and Border Protection announced that it had encountered more than 100,000 migrants at the border in February, while numbers of child migrants in custody have also increased dramatically.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.