Joe Biden has blamed Vice President Kamala Harris for US efforts to stop the flow of Central American migrants to the southern border as administration struggles to contain growth political crisis.
“I can’t think of anyone better qualified to do this,” Biden said, speaking from the White House as he met with senior immigration officials, including Alejandro Mayorkas, who heads the Department of Immigration. internal security, which oversees border security.
In recent months, the Biden administration has struggled to contain and deal with the number of children attempting to cross the US-Mexico border, leaving the United States to scramble to find adequate detention facilities.
The meeting will make Harris, a former U.S. senator and California attorney general, the face of the Biden administration’s response to what has become one of the biggest political crises it has faced to date.
Republicans criticized the Biden administration for encouraging migrants to make the dangerous journey north by reversing some of its predecessor’s sweeping policies. The White House has said it is working to fix a faulty system left behind by the Trump administration.
Earlier this month, US Customs and Border Protection said more than 100,000 people were encountered at the US-Mexico border in February. This includes nearly 9,500 unaccompanied children, the highest number since May 2019 and a 62% increase from January.
At current levels, the US-Mexico border crossings are on track to be the highest in 20 years, officials in the Biden administration have said.
While the Biden administration has repeatedly stressed that the southern border of the United States remains closed, it suspended a Trump-era public health rule that allowed the immediate deportation of unaccompanied minors. However, he continued to immediately deport other migrants.
Harris will be involved in diplomatic work with Central American countries hence the the vast majority of migrants attempting to cross the southern border have come, fleeing the corruption, violence and poverty that worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
His appointment would signal the northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, as well as Mexico, that there was a senior US official “dedicated to this effort,” a senior official said on Wednesday. administration.
Harris’ appointment is the latest sign of a diplomatic push by the Biden administration to tackle the root causes of migration, while focusing on border security.
The United States sent three high-level diplomats in Mexico earlier this week to work on developing “an effective and humane action plan to manage migration,” according to the White House National Security Council.
Meanwhile, the State Department has appointed Ricardo Zúñiga, a former Obama adviser on Latin America, as special envoy for the “northern triangle.”
Mexico announced last week that it was tightening security at its border with Guatemala, citing the need to fight Covid-19. Since then, the militarized Mexican National Guard police force has been deployed on the banks of the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala, one of the main crossing points for migrants.