Biden taps Harris to lead administration's response to migrant surge at the border

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the administration's effort to deal with the increase in migrants coming from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Video Transcript

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Also today I said when we became a team, got elected, that the vice president is going to be the last person in the room. She didn't realize that means she gets every assignment. But the vice president and I and all of us here have working very hard to pass the legislation that is going to beat this virus, as well as get people back to work and change their prospects.

And so she's traveling all over the country working that. In addition to that, there's about five other major things she's handling, but I've asked her, the VP today, because she's the most qualified person to do it, to lead our efforts with Mexico and the northern triangle and the countries that we're going to need help in stemming the movement of so many folks. Stemming the migration to our southern border.

But the vice president's agreed among the multiple other things that have been made and I appreciate it, agreed to lead our diplomatic effort and work with those nations to accept the returnees and enhance migration enforcement at their borders. At their borders.

We're already talking with Mexico about that. She's already done that. We're going to be dealing with a full team now that we have, to be able to deal with the problem here at home, but also to deal with it now in terms of in country. And I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this than a former-- this is a woman who ran the second largest attorney general's office in America after the United States attorney general in the state of California and has done a great deal of following human rights, but also fighting organized crime in the process.

So it's not her full responsibility, the job, but she's leading the effort because I think the best thing to do is to put someone who when he or she speaks, they don't have to wonder about is that where the president is. When she speaks, she speaks for me. She doesn't have to check with me. She knows what she's doing. And I hope we can move this along.

So Madam Vice President. Thank you. I gave you a tough job and you're smiling. But there's no one better capable of trying to organize this.

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Well, thank you Mr. President and for having the confidence in me. And there's no question that this is a challenging situation. As the president has said, there are many factors that lead president to leave these countries. And while we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law and that we also because we can chew gum and walk at the same time, must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek, as the president has described, to come here.

And I look forward to engaging in diplomacy with government, with the private sector, with civil society and the leaders of each in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, to strengthen democracy and the rule of law and ensure shared prosperity in the region. We will collaborate with Mexico and other countries throughout the western hemisphere.

And as part of this effort we expect that we will have collaborative relationships to accomplish the goals the president has and that we share. I also look forward to working with members of the Congress who I think share our perspective on the need to address root causes for the migration that we've been seeing.

And needless to say, the work will not be easy. But it is important work. It is work that we demand and the people of our countries I believe, need to help stem the tide that we have seen. So thank you, Mr. President for your confidence. Thank you.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you.