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Vice President Kamala Harris Calls Border Crisis 'Challenging' But Vows To Meet The Moment

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CBS4's Debra Alfarone reports from Capitol Hill.

Video Transcript

- Turning now to the Biden presidency and the crisis at the southern border. Today Vice President Kamala Harris referred to the situation there as challenging and vowed to meet the moment.

Thousands of unaccompanied minors arrived there, and photos of conditions inside a Texas facility come as calls grow for the Biden administration to loosen media access restrictions. CBS 4's Debra Alfarone has more from Capitol Hill.

DEBRA ALFARONE: New pictures shared by Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar show cramped conditions inside a Donna, Texas temporary overflow facility as the number of unaccompanied minors housed by HHS totals more than 11,000.

KAMALA HARRIS: We've got to treat this issue in a way that is reflective of our values as Americans and do it in a way that is fair and is humane. It's going to take a lot of work.

DEBRA ALFARONE: Despite the exceptions made for unaccompanied minors, the Biden administration continues to send this message.

- The border is closed.

DEBRA ALFARONE: Lawmakers from both sides have called on the White House to allow news media access to migrant holding facilities. In a letter, Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz accused President Biden of, quote, "hiding the truth from the American people."

JEN PSAKI: We're working on independent press coverage. We believe that that should happen and that should be the case.

DEBRA ALFARONE: The situation at the border has led to finger pointing. Republican lawmakers are blaming the Biden administration, while Democrats are criticizing the policies of the previous Trump administration.

ROB PORTMAN: The Biden administration, on day one, made about a half dozen changes and since then have made several more that encourage more people to come to the border.

- The current administration effectively dismantled the asylum system.

DEBRA ALFARONE: President Biden says he plans to visit the border at some point. Monday, senior Biden administration officials announced they're traveling to Mexico and Guatemala to meet with officials to discuss the surge of asylum seekers at the border, which the administration so far refuses to characterize as a crisis. Debra Alfarone, CBS News, Capitol Hill.

- Now, a spokesperson for FEMA tells CBS News the agency has 4,000 COVID-19 testing kits to the border and adds that unaccompanied minors are tested before they're transported to emergency shelters.