What Exactly is Harris’ Role on Immigration?
Biden just did a terrible thing to his VP. He gave her the same assignment that Obama gave him when he was VP. It didn’t turn out well then and it could possibly not turn out well this time around either.
On March 24, Biden announced that he was putting Harris in charge of . . . well, that kinda depends on who you talk to.
The initial announcement said that she was going to be the point person on immigration issues on the southern border, specifically “stemming the rising tide of migrants, many of them unaccompanied children, arriving in the U.S.”
That sounded just a wee bit ambiguous, so a senior administration official later clarified that statement to “Harris’ main focus will be two-pronged: working to slow the flow of irregular migrants by addressing the root causes that prompt them to leave their home countries as well as strengthening relationships with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries where the bulk of the migrants arriving at the U.S. border come from.”
Still not crystal clear. So let’s give the inimitable Jen Psaki a stab at it. “The Northern Triangle, which I’m sure you’re aware of is not the same as the border.”
To what was she referring?
She was referring, of course, to the Republicans’ predictable attempts to muddy the waters by deliberately misrepresenting the president’s words and referring to Harris as “the manager of the Biden border crisis.” The RNC Chair, Ronna McDaniel even wrote an op-ed titled “Where’s Kamala? Biden’s border point person can’t be bothered to show up.”
Gotta love those Republicans. Anything to divert attention from their Orange god’s failure to not only not complete his precious border wall, but also his failure to get Mexico to pay for it.
So let’s clarify.
President Biden has delegated responsibility on a diplomatic issue to Vice President Harris. Which he should. He has a lot on his plate right now.
He chose immigration because she has a lot of experience dealing with immigration issues, both when she was Attorney General for California and as a senator who sat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee part of whose portfolio is overseeing immigration policy.
What exactly will she be doing?
When Biden was running in 2020, one of his proposed policies was to spend $4 billion over four years to try to reduce violence, mitigate climate change and lessen government corruption in the Northern Triangle region of Central America which comprises the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
This will be Harris’ new assignment.
The idea is not new. When Biden was Obama’s vice president, he had a similar assignment. In 2015, in an attempt to slow the flow of immigrants to the southern border, Biden was put in charge of spending $1 billion dollars in Central America.
Unfortunately, there were very few strings attached to those funds so they were diverted by the corrupt regimes in the area and never reached the communities and the people that needed the money.
This time around, the intention is to use what was learned from that little fiasco to ensure that the larger sums being proposed actually get to the people and communities that need them.
This is why you keep seeing reports of Harris being briefed on issues in the Northern Triangle while planning a trip to the area. Oh, and she also had a nice phone call with the president of Mexico.
She shouldn’t be visiting the southern border. That’s not her assignment. In fact, Biden has a whole team plus FEMA working on the border issues.
Harris’ assignment is to work directly with the Central American countries from which the immigrants arriving at our southern border are fleeing. The intention is to improve conditions in those countries so that people will be less likely to want to leave and migrate to the US.
It’s a tough assignment. It went terribly wrong when Biden had it as vice president. I’m sure that Harris will be working hard to not make the same mistakes. She wants to run for president again in the future.
If she is successful with this assignment, it will be a huge advantage for her over other candidates.
On the other hand, if it blows up, it could be an equally large hurdle for her to overcome.
In the meantime, expect the Republicans to continue to make it look like she is not doing her job when she doesn’t show up at the border or even seem to care about unaccompanied minors or desperate families.
Remember, they are trying to make Biden (and Harris) look bad to make themselves look good. They love pointing out that fewer migrants were showing up and trying to cross the border under the previous administration.
What they don’t point out is that fewer people actually wanted to migrate here and live under a regime that treated them as less than human. That policies like family separation and forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims were processed worked as intended, discouraging migration.
Biden has instituted more humane immigration policies so more people want to migrate here and now we have a humanitarian crisis on the southern border.
A crisis that Biden (and Harris) are trying to solve by providing aid to Central American countries whose economies have been devastated by drought, hurricanes and violence.