Days after laughing at a suggestion to visit the US southern border, Vice President Kamala Harris will now handle the border crisis. President Joe Biden appointed Harris to oversee efforts with Central American countries to stem the flow of migrants. This is Harris’s first major assignment from the President.
“I asked her, the VP, today, because she’s the most qualified person to do it, to lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle, and the countries that can help, need help in stemming the movement of so many folks, stemming the migration to our southern border,” Biden told reporters Wednesday. “I said when we became a team and got elected that the vice president was going to be the last person in the room. She doesn’t realize that means she gets every assignment,” Biden joked. Until this assignment, Harris never received a key portfolio issue to handle.
Previously, then-President Barack Obama made the same decision regarding his Vice President, who was Biden at the time. Obama tasked Biden with leading diplomatic efforts in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador after a surge of unaccompanied minors from those countries began arriving in the US. Now, more and more migrants are arriving at the border at increased levels. Despite the problem’s crisis proportions, the Biden White House refuses to call the situation a crisis.
Harris accepted the assignment but similarly avoided calling the situation a crisis. “Thank you, Mr. President, for having the confidence in me. There is no question that this is a challenging situation. While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law and that we also — because we can chew gum and walk at the same time — must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek, as the President has described, to come here,” she said.
Administration officials say that the Vice President will focus on stemming the current flow of migrants. She will also attempt to develop a larger strategic partnership with Central American countries based on respect and shared values. A senior Biden said that with Harris’ appointment, the Northern Triangle and Mexico will know the one senior official dedicated to the migrant border efforts.
‘Are We Frustrated? Yes We Are’
During her presidential campaign, Harris pledged to use deferred action immigration programs and utilize executive actions to remove the threat of deportation for undocumented migrants.
Now, she felt less confident and admitted to CBS News that the White House remains frustrated by the current situation. “Look, we’ve been in office less than 100 days,” she said. “We are addressing it. We are dealing with it, but it’s going to take some time, and are we frustrated? Are you frustrated? Yes, we are.” Still, Harris pins her hopes of success on engaging with the migrants’ countries of origin. “I look forward to engaging in diplomacy with the government, with the private sector, with civil society and the leaders of each in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to strengthen democracy and the rule of law and ensure shared prosperity in the region,” she said.
Watch the Reuters news video reporting that President Joe Biden taps Vice President Kamala Harris to lead border efforts:
Do you think Vice President Kamala Harris will successfully handle the border crisis? Will you support her efforts in managing the situation? Let us know what you think will happen with Harris taking over. Share your comments in the comment section below.