Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the Northern Triangle in Central America to discuss the root causes of the surge in migration at the United States-Mexico border, a trip announced as Republicans question her role on the matter.
The vice president detailed the plan ahead of a virtual meeting on the region with her top national security adviser, Nancy McEldowney, and a slate of outside experts.
Harris said the visit would include stops in Mexico and Guatemala, whose leaders she recently spoke with. She said she would travel “as soon as possible,” citing COVID-19 restrictions and other constraints on which she did not elaborate.
Asked whether she intended to travel to the southern border, which has seen a surge in arrivals from the Northern Triangle region, Harris demurred.
“The president has asked [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas to address what is going on at the border, and he has been working very hard and is showing some progress,” Harris said. “I have been asked to lead the issue of addressing the root causes, similar to what the then-vice president did many years ago.”
She added, “I will tell you that these are not issues that are going to be addressed overnight.”
Harris and others have likened her role to that of President Joe Biden during the Obama administration, when Biden was tasked with addressing an increase in the arrival of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Harris said at the time that she looked forward to engaging diplomatically and with the private sector in the effort.
In her opening remarks on Wednesday, Harris said her views are informed by the belief that most migrants don’t want to leave their homes and do so because of economic duress or physical harm.
To curb migration numbers, the U.S. can leverage aid and other tools to provide “some hope that if they stay at home, hope is on the way,” the vice president said.
“There is great work that is already happening in our initiative that includes reaching out to our allies at the U.N.,” Harris said, referring to the group of 193 member states.
Biden tasked Harris last month with forging a diplomatic solution to the growing number of migrants arriving at the southern border, a hot-button issue that has animated both sides of the political aisle.
Harris has said little on the issue so far, drawing criticism from Republicans. Some centrist Democrats have also pressed the White House for answers on the strategy to address what has become a growing crisis.
Earlier Wednesday, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was seen toting a milk carton that declared Harris “missing” on the border issue.
Discussion at the virtual meeting will focus on the drivers of migration from the Northern Triangle countries, which include El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, likely covering humanitarian assistance, climate resilience, economic development, and anti-corruption measures, the White House said. Recent natural disasters have also plagued the region, affecting livelihoods.
It follows a slew of recent announcements from the White House on migration issues. A deal with leaders in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala to tighten control of their borders and stem the flow of migrants traveling north to the U.S. was announced on Monday. Days earlier, a senior White House official told Reuters that the administration was considering conditional cash transfers to migrants and COVID-19 vaccine aid to incentivize people to stay in their home countries.
Author : Katherine Doyle
Source : Washington Examiner : Kamala Harris says she will travel to Mexico and Guatemala amid migrant surge
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