No, the vice president's book was not included in welcome kits for immigrant children.
Republican lawmakers are now attacking Vice President Kamala Harris over her 2019 children's book.
The book, called "Superheroes Are Everywhere," was photographed as part of a welcome kit given to unaccompanied immigrant children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and are being sheltered in the Southern California city of Long Beach.
The image, which circulated Friday, showed the book placed on top of a backpack, alongside other basic hygiene items resting on a cot at the Long Beach facility. The book promotes the message that superheroes can be found among people already in childrens' lives, including themselves.
The discovery was supposedly made by the New York Post on Friday, and was promoted by other conservative outlets, including Fox News. The New York Post story, however, appears to have since been removed, with no explanation.
According to the Washington Post, there was no proof beyond the single photograph in the New York Post article that Harris's book was being included in welcome kits, and the conservative outlet itself would not say how it came to that conclusion.
The White House defended Harris over the weekend. It told Fox News that the vice president did not know her book would be included in the package and that community members provided the supplies. The White House also told the Washington Examiner that the children's book came from donations organized within the city of Long Beach.
As the Washington Post noted on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the city of Long Beach later confirmed the book — just one copy — had been donated as part of a book and toy drive for immigrant children in the facility. "The book you reference is one of hundreds of books that have already been donated. The book was not purchased by HHS or the City," they said.
Those explanations did not quell the GOP lawmakers' false attacks against Harris.
"Now they're forcing taxpayers to buy Kamala Harris's book to give to those illegal immigrants?" Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) tweeted on Sunday.
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) tweeted on Monday, "Is Kamala Harris making money off of the border crisis her policies helped create? The American people deserve answers."
"Unbelievable," tweeted Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) on Monday. "Instead of visiting unaccompanied minors at our #BorderCrisis, Kamala Harris is giving them her book."
The White House has asserted that Harris was not assigned to tackle issues directly related to the border, but to address the root causes of immigration, specifically from the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador of Central America.
"I will just reiterate that the vice president is not doing the border," said Harris' spokeswoman Symone Sanders confirmed on April 1.
"The Northern Triangle, which I'm sure you're aware of ... is not the same as the border," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on April 7.
Those "root causes" include struggles with poverty, violence, political corruption, gang power over communities, climate change, lack of economic opportunities, and other critical issues.
Femicide, the killing of women and girls, is a significant problem in the Northern Triangle countries, particularly in Guatemala where over 300 women were found murdered in 2020 alone, according to the international news outlet EFE Agency.
Thousands of people were displaced in the region as a result of the destruction that Hurricanes Eta and Iota wrought.
So far, Harris is doing everything she has been tasked with, according to the White House. She has held phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala, and she announced that she will be visiting Central America soon.
"Our focus is to deal with the root causes, and I'm looking forward to traveling, hopefully, as my first trip, to the Northern Triangle — stopping in Mexico and then going to Guatemala sometime soon," she said on April 14, when she held a roundtable of experts to further discuss root causes in the region.
Meanwhile, experts have said research suggested there is no "crisis" at the border, but rather, the uptick in immigration could be attributed to seasonal shifts and a backlog from the border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This story was updated to attribute the original reporting on the book to the New York Post, and to note that the Post's story has since been removed, without explanation. It was also updated to clarify that the city of Long Beach only received one copy of the book for a book and toy drive, and to state that original reports suggesting there were multiple copies included in welcome kits for immigrant children were false.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.