Vice President Kamala Harris was tasked last week with leading efforts to address migration to the southern border, where the nation is facing what’s been described as a “humanitarian crisis” amid a surge in migrants coming to the U.S.
Her assigned efforts on immigration, which includes overseeing diplomatic efforts with Northern Triangle countries, fit into a broader trend of the administration delegating substantial foreign policy responsibilities to her. For example, she has held calls with major world leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.
Since the beginning of the administration and a week after Biden’s announcement, Harris has fielded questions from the media but has yet to hold a formal press conference. Meanwhile, the border crisis captivated the nation’s attention and raised a series of concerns about national security and the stability of the U.S. immigration system as a whole.
When Biden initially announced her appointment, he said she would be in charge of working to return migrants to their home countries.
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“So this new surge we’re dealing with now started with the last administration, but it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to – and to stop what’s happening,” he said last Wednesday.
“And so, this increase has been consequential, but the vice president has agreed – among the multiple other things that I have her leading – and I appreciate it – agreed to lead our diplomatic effort and work with those nations to accept re- – the returnees, and enhance migration enforcement at their borders – at their borders.”
The White House later attempted to claim that Harris wasn’t involved with the “border crisis,” but was instead focused on addressing the “root causes – not the border.” Regardless, returnees include individuals who make contact with U.S. authorities at the southern border, as well as others who are returned while traveling through other countries.
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The overwhelming flow of migrants has led to the viral photos of individuals packed into close quarters despite coronavirus restrictions, raising questions about two of the Biden-Harris’ campaigns central attacks on President Trump. During the campaign, Biden lambasted Trump for not taking COVID-19 seriously and assailed his purported cruelty in placing migrant children in cages.
The border crisis itself encompasses a long list of issues and agencies througout the federal government, particularly those housed under the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. According to Harris’ office, she’ll work closely with various Cabinet members, including the secretary of state and the administrator for international development, as well as the special envoy for the Northern Triangle.