In an “immediate relief” meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris called for “virtual” for Northern Triangle countries as part of her strategy to address the “root causes” of the migration crisis at the southern border.
“It is in our countries mutual interest to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle and to address the root causes of migration,” Harris told President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Harris has been tasked with handling diplomatic talks with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador in order to resolve the massive migrant wave that has crashed against the border in recent months.
Critics have blamed the surge on President Biden’s quick rollback of a number of key Trump-era policies, such as limiting the use of Title 42 and ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), as well as tightening interior enforcement.
However, the Biden administration has placed a greater emphasis on “root causes” such as violence, poverty, and climate change, with Harris frequently citing a variety of reasons why migrants are increasingly making the perilous journey north.
Harris has called for substantial investment in the region in areas ranging from combating violence against marginalized groups to assisting farmers in planting drought-resistant crops. She has touted an initial $310 million in aid being sent to the region as part of the Biden administration’s larger $4 billion investment plan.
During her meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Harris stated that it was “in our mutual interest to address some of these root causes” and that she wanted to do so in a way that “internationalizes our approach.” She has previously stated that she has discussed the region’s crisis with the leaders of Japan, Ireland, and Finland.
“And we take a comprehensive strategy approach. Our approach is to collaborate with international institutions, nations around the world, the private sector, and community organizations “She stated.
Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador emphasized a shared approach: “We have so many things in common and we are in agreement when it comes to the policies that you are undertaking when it comes to migration and we will help.”
Republicans have chastised Harris for failing to visit the border in her role, with more than 40 days passing without a border visit or a press conference. The White House has retaliated, claiming that she is involved in diplomacy rather than border security.
However, it will be even longer before she makes her first in-person trip. She has had a number of “virtual meetings” with Mexican and Guatemalan leaders, but she will not visit both countries until next month.