Harris, assigned to work with other countries to tackle migration and returning migrants to their home countries, has avoided border visit.
Vice President Kamala Harris continues to avoid a U.S.-Mexico border visit — or a news conference about her border-related duties — despite having visited Southern California over Easter weekend.
Harris was tasked late last month by President Biden with leading efforts to address migration to the southern border, where the nation is facing what’s been described as a “humanitarian crisis” amid a surge in migrants coming to the U.S.
She has now gone 14 days without holding a news conference specifically about her new border duties.
Harris failed to stop by the border during a visit this past weekend to her Los Angeles-area home, where she baked a “beautiful” pork roast and made rice and peas, she said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Monday, she was in Oakland to promote Biden’s infrastructure plan and visit local businesses. During that visit, she gave support to California Gov. Gavin Newsom in his efforts to stave off a recall, the paper reported.
On Tuesday, she visited Chicago to tout Biden’s vaccine effort and urged residents to get their shot against COVID-19. Her visit came on the same day that Biden directed states to open vaccine eligibility for everyone age 16 and older starting April 19 — moving up his deadline by two weeks.
“We’re all here to make a statement we understand the significance of getting vaccinated, that it’s bigger than us,” she said. “We are doing it because we know this is a room of role models and people look to you to see how things should be done.”
Her assigned efforts on immigration, which include overseeing diplomatic efforts with Northern Triangle countries, fit into a broader trend of the administration delegating substantial foreign policy responsibilities to her. For example, she has held calls with major world leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.
Since the beginning of the administration and a week after Biden’s announcement, Harris has fielded questions from the media but has yet to hold a formal news conference. Meanwhile, the border crisis captivated the nation’s attention and raised a series of concerns about national security and the stability of the U.S. immigration system as a whole.
When Biden initially announced her appointment, he said she would be in charge of working to return migrants to their home countries.
“So this new surge we’re dealing with now started with the last administration, but it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to – and to stop what’s happening,” Biden said month.
“And so, this increase has been consequential, but the vice president has agreed – among the multiple other things that I have her leading – and I appreciate it – agreed to lead our diplomatic effort and work with those nations to accept re- – the returnees, and enhance migration enforcement at their borders – at their borders.”
The White House later attempted to claim that Harris wasn’t involved with the “border crisis,” but was instead focused on addressing the “root causes – not the border.” Regardless, returnees include individuals who make contact with U.S. authorities at the southern border, as well as others who are returned while traveling through other countries.
The overwhelming flow of migrants has led to the viral photos of individuals packed into close quarters despite coronavirus restrictions, raising questions about two of the Biden-Harris campaigns’ central attacks on President Trump.
During the campaign, Biden lambasted Trump for not taking COVID-19 seriously and assailed his purported cruelty in placing migrant children in cages.
The border crisis itself encompasses a long list of issues and agencies throughout the federal government, particularly those housed under the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to Harris’ office, she’ll work closely with various Cabinet members, including the secretary of state and the administrator for international development, as well as the special envoy for the Northern Triangle.