Vice President Kamala Harris who still hasn’t paid a visit to the southern border since being appointed the border czar is continuing the blame game in pointing the finger on former President Donald Trump’s handling of the border as reason for the surge of unaccompanied minors that is occurring now under the Biden administration.
“Part of the problem is that, under the previous administration, they pulled out, essentially, a lot of what had been the continuum of work, and it essentially came to a standstill,” Harris said in an interview with Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” that aired Sunday.
“We have to rebuild it,” Harris added, without elaborating more on the problem the Trump administration caused that the Biden administration is now rebuilding. “And I have made it very clear to our team that this has to be a function of a priority that is an American priority, and not just a function of whoever happens to be sitting in this chair.”
In explaining “part of” her approach working to address, Harris said that Central Americans need “some sense of hope that help is on the way” to deter those making the trek in migrating to the border.
“I come at this issue from the perspective that most people don’t want to leave home,” Harris said. “Most people don’t want to leave home. And when they do, it’s usually for one of two reasons. They’re fleeing some harm or they cannot stay and satisfy the basic necessities of life, such as feeding their children and having a roof over their head. That is part of — a big part of what is going on. So, I look at the issue of what’s going on in the Northern Triangle from that perspective. And then my take on it is that we have got to — understanding that, we have to give people some sense of hope that, if they stay, that help is on the way. ”
The vice president argued how the Biden administration is examining the root causes of the surge of migrants fleeing their country, citing “extreme weather conditions” as an example of the “huge impact” affecting the region, in particular, “the economic devastation.” She noted that agriculture was one of the “residual point[s]” impacted that has affected the region and what they see is causing people to flee.
“Looking at, again, the root causes, extreme weather conditions has had a huge impact on one of their biggest industries, which is agriculture, including drought, right?” Harris stated. “And so a residual point, not only about the economic devastation and what we need to do to assist with economic development and relief, but it’s also they have got extreme hunger there and food insecurity, and so what we need to do to address that.”
Harris explained to Bash that she has focused on convened members from the Biden administration, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and NSC Director Jake Sullivan for a meeting discussing their focus in assisting farmers in areas from the Northern Triangle that have been hit the hardest by natural disasters like global warming.
She also added that the convened members will soon hold a virtual trade mission and then hopefully an in-person visit later, along with working with United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield making the request to the global body and other allies to help the U.S. in lending a hand to stem the tide at the border.
When asked if she plans to make a trip to meet with the leaders she has talked to virtually in a face-to-face setting, Harris said yes, but blamed COVID restrictions as an excuse for not making the travels sooner.
“And we have a plan to actually have another meeting coming up soon. We’re working on the plan to get there. We have to deal with COVID issues, but I can’t get there soon enough, in terms of personally getting there,” Harris said.
However, Harris has traveled extensively across the United States since being appointed in late March to head the U.S. response to the surge of migrants at the border, but for other initiatives not related to the border crisis. She visited North Carolina last Monday to promote Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal as well as doing so again last Friday when visiting New Hampshire.
Last week, Harris confirmed that she was planning a trip in June to the Northern Triangle region of Central America, including Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras but not the U.S border itself. The precise itinerary has yet been announced, as the White House is currently working on narrowing down a date for the Vice President to make her first international trip.
Harris will hold a virtual bilateral meeting Monday afternoon with Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei where the two will “iscuss working together to address immediate relief needs of the Guatemalan people as well as deepening cooperation on migration.” On Tuesday, according to Harris’ chief spokeswoman, the Vice President will take part in a virtual roundtable hosted by the U.S Embassy in Guatemala City with “representatives from Guatemalan community-based organizations,” for a meeting to discuss the “importance of placing the Guatemalan people at the center of solutions to root causes of migration.”