In the face of a growing wave of immigrants at the U.S. southern border, President Joe Biden has announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will be the White House point person in charge of leading the immigration solution mission.
Efforts will include taking steps to stem the flow of “irregular immigrants” by addressing “root causes” through a diplomatic approach, a senior administration official explained.
According to Politico, Kamala Harris’ mission will include strengthening relations with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, where most of the migrants arriving at the country’s southern border come from.
“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” the president told reporters at the White House.
The role puts Harris front-and-center at one of the most politically difficult issues for the White House as it struggles with an influx of migrant children at the southern border, Politico added. Harris acknowledged this, saying there “is no question this is a challenging situation,” but said that she would be looking forward to discussions with the nations’ leaders.
As CNN explained, the task mimics Biden’s own immigration solution efforts in 2014 and 2015, when then-President Barack Obama asked him to lead diplomatic efforts in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador after a wave of unaccompanied minors from those countries began arriving in the United States.
Migrants are again arriving at the border at increasing levels, which has led to a struggle by the administration to accommodate them and a political problem for the White House.
During her own presidential run, Kamala Harris said she would expand the use of deferred action immigration programs and use executive actions to eliminate the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented people in the United States if elected president.
My message to immigrants: You are not alone. We stand with you. We will fight for you and your rights every day. Do not live in fear. A new day is coming after this election.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 26, 2019
On Wednesday, in an interview with CBS News, she said the White House was 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.”
For Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, the vice president’s challenge will be administrative in nature.
Having inherited a management disaster from the Trump Administration, Harris will have to change the “crisis” narrative around the border issue and navigate the turbulent political waters stoked by the Republican Party.
“It’s a silly story. Trump’s policies – especially the one forcing migrants to wait in Mexico for asylum hearings, which Biden rescinded – themselves produced a humanitarian crisis. Ending cruelty-as-deterrence – and accepting the challenge of trying to fix the system, rather than turning migrants away – are the right things to do,” Sargent explains.