Biden taps Harris to stem migration flow from Central America

·2 min read

President Joe Biden has decided to tap Vice President Kamala Harris to lead his administration's effort to stem migration from Central America, as the United States deals with a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing its southern border.

The role will represent the first significant item in the vice president’s portfolio, and her involvement has the potential to elevate the issue within the White House and broader administration.

Harris will work along two tracks, senior administration officials said Wednesday: in the near term, "stemming the flow of irregular migrants to the U.S." and in the longer term, establishing a "strategic partnership" with Mexico and countries in the Northern Triangle -- El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala -- that is "based on respect and shared values, to enhance prosperity, combat current corruption, and strengthen the rule of law."

PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris listens during a meeting with local leaders as she visits Feeding Northeast Florida food pantry and distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 22, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris listens during a meeting with local leaders as she visits Feeding Northeast Florida food pantry and distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 22, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

"She is going to be focused on overseeing our diplomatic efforts, working closely with these nations to look at the issues of migration and their own enforcement on their own borders," an official said. "More broadly, though, she's going to be working to implement a long-term strategy that gets at the root causes of migration."

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When Biden previously served as vice president, then-President Barack Obama tasked him with taking the lead on a variety of domestic and international priorities, from shaping foreign policy on Iraq and Ukraine, to overseeing the implementation of the 2009 economic recovery act.

Until now, Biden had not tasked Harris with a similar, high-profile issue she could make her own.

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“This is something that Joe Biden did when he was vice president,” a senior administration official said. “And so he has experienced and lived through this process as vice president himself.”

Harris will work with Cabinet members like the secretary of state, as well as the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and the U.S. special envoy for the Northern Triangle, an official said. Harris also plans to engage the private sector, civil society and government leaders in the Northern Triangle and Mexico, the official added.

"She comes into this partnership with the goals of trying to enhance prosperity, combat corruption and strengthen good governance and the rule of law, and those are the goals of the countries themselves," an official said.

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The officials declined to provide any specific travel Harris may be planning or calls she may have in the future, although an official did note that this morning the vice president spoke with the special envoy and other members of a U.S. delegation currently visiting Mexico.

On Monday, a reporter asked Harris if she planned to travel to the border. Neither she nor Biden have done so since taking office.

"Not today," Harris said, laughing. "But I have before and I'm sure I will again."

Biden taps Harris to stem migration flow from Central America originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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