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Harris' new communications director to meet with Latino lawmakers after old tweets surface

Vice President Kamala Harris' new communications director is set to meet this week with Latino lawmakers to explain past tweets about immigrants as he continues to face pressure from Latino leaders and organizations to explain himself.

Jamal Simmons took on the new role last week and is scheduled to meet virtually on Thursday with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, people familiar with the plans tell CBS News.

A White House official confirmed that Simmons and Latino lawmakers are set to speak Thursday as part of "a mutually agreed upon meeting."

A day after his new role was announced, immigration rights advocates unearthed tweets from 2010, when Simmons commented on the appearance of two "undocumented folks" who appeared on MSNBC.

Jamal Simmons joined Margaret Brennan for a political panel on the 2020 race on "Face the Nation" in Washington, DC Sunday March 31, 2019. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS © 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. Chris Usher

"Why wouldn't ICE pick them up?" Simmons asked, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Simmons, a longtime Democratic Party consultant who also served as a political analyst for CBS News during the 2020 presidential campaign cycle, apologized for his past remarks.

"As a pundit I tweeted+spoke A LOT," he tweeted in his explanation on January 7. "At times I've been sarcastic, unclear or plainly missed the mark. I apologize for offending ppl who care as much as I do about making America the best, multiethnic, diverse democracy+I'll rep the Biden-Harris admin w/humility, sincerity+respect."

Simmons has plunged right into his new role, traveling last week with President Biden and Harris to Atlanta for their remarks on voting rights. But the revelations about his past comments come at a fraught time for the Vice President, who faces unprecedented scrutiny as the first woman and minority to serve as in the number two role, but also faces questions and criticism from across the Democratic Party about her utility and effectiveness.

Harris is also in the process of restocking her staff after a series of year-end departures, including senior advisers, communications aides and head of her press advance team.

News of Thursday's scheduled meeting was first reported by Axios.

Tim Perry contributed to this report. 

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