Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris was tasked with leading efforts to address migration to the southern border, where the country is facing what has been described as a “humanitarian crisis” due to a surge in migrants arriving in the United States.
Her assigned immigration efforts, which include overseeing diplomatic efforts with Northern Triangle countries, are part of a larger trend in which the administration has delegated significant foreign policy responsibilities to her. She has, for example, spoken with major world leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Harris has fielded media questions since the start of the administration, and a week after Biden’s announcement, but she has yet to hold a formal press conference. Meanwhile, the border crisis has captured the nation’s attention and raised a number of concerns about national security and the overall stability of the United States immigration system.
When Biden first announced her appointment, he stated that she would be in charge of coordinating efforts to return migrants to their home countries.
“So this new surge we’re dealing with now started with the previous administration,” he said last Wednesday, “but it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to – and to stop what’s happening.”
“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 claimed that Harris was not involved in the “border crisis,” but rather was focused on addressing the “root causes – not the border.” Individuals who make contact with US authorities at the southern border, as well as those who are returned while traveling through other countries, are considered returnees.
The massive influx of migrants has resulted in viral photos of people packed into close quarters despite coronavirus restrictions, raising concerns about two of the Biden-Harris campaign’s main attacks on President Trump. During the campaign, Biden chastised Trump for failing to take COVID-19 seriously and for allegedly torturing migrant children in cages.
The border crisis encompasses a wide range of issues and agencies across the federal government, particularly those under the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. According to Harris’ office, she will collaborate closely with various Cabinet members, including the secretary of state and the administrator for international development, as well as the Northern Triangle Special Envoy.