Sanwar Ali: additional reporting and comments
US Vice President, Kamala Harris has outlined her US immigration strategy to reduce the flow of migrants at the southern border with Mexico ahead of a visit to Central America later this year. It’s understood that Ms Harris will visit the so-called ‘Northern Triangle’ region – consisting of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – in June 2021.
There are reports that the Biden immigration policy is not that popular amongst the public in the US. Biden is taking steps to make immigration easier which is popular with many Democrats. At the same time the administration is turning away migrants at the border using a Trump policy.
The Biden administration claims that it will be possible to reduce immigration at the border by aid programs overseas across the border. Many people are sceptical of this.
The Vice President told CNN: “I come at this issue from the perspective that most people don’t want to leave home. They don’t want to leave their grandparents; they don’t want to leave the place where they grew up, where they speak the language, where they know the culture. That place is home.”
“When they do leave, 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,” Ms Harris added.
Domestic and international assistance
Ms Harris said that she has a vision to boost domestic and international assistance to the three Northern Triangle nations in a bid to tackle the root causes of mass migration from the region to the United States via Mexico.
The Vice President said that she had brought together Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Adviser, the agriculture and commerce state departments, and the US Agency for International Development (USAid) as part of her response to the situation at the southern border.
It’s understood that the Commerce Department will hold an online trade mission, while the Agriculture Department will focus on helping the drought-plagued region’s farmers. USAid will be offering disaster response assistance throughout hurricane season.
Ms Harris said: “Part of my approach is that we’ve got to institutionalise the work but also internationalise it.”
The Vice President is working with UN ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to ensure that allies of the US ‘increase their contributions’ in the Northern Triangle region.
Harris said: “We have to give people some sense of hope that if they stay that help is on the way.”
June visit planned
Harris’ response to the situation at the border with Mexico has been heavily criticized, while Biden’s handling of the situation has seen his popularity plummet. The White House confirmed that Harris will visit the Northern Triangle countries in June, with the Vice President saying her trip has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much of Harris’ response to the ‘crisis’ has so far been conducted online. She met with Guatemalan President, Alejandro Giammattei, online recently and is expected to meet with Guatemala’s civil leaders also. In May, the Vice President is set to hold talks with Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Currently, tens of thousands of Northern Triangle migrants remain on the Mexican side of the southern border, most of whom are hoping to secure asylum in the US, but face a lengthy wait for their day in US immigration court due to huge backlogs.
Joe Biden blamed
US President, Joe Biden, has been blasted by Republicans over the border crisis that continues to unfold on a daily basis. Many Republican officials have attributed the crisis to Biden’s decision to reverse many of Donald Trump’s hardline US immigration policies.
The Biden administration has also come under pressure from a number of Democratic representatives for keeping some of Trump’s policies in place – including the continued detention of unaccompanied children.
Biden tasked Harris with leading his administration’s response to the US immigration crisis at the border.
Harris said: “Joe Biden, as Vice President under President Barack Obama, was asked to focus on the Northern Triangle, and he asked me to do and carry on the work that he did. We’re making progress but it’s not going to evidence itself overnight. It will not but it will be worth it.”
“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 added.
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