Why Has There Been Not a Peep From the Veep on the Border Crisis?
If your house were on fire, would the first thought be to determine how it started or to put out the spreading flames? Judging by how the Biden administration is not dealing with the ongoing border crisis, you might want to find a new home. In March, President Joe Biden assigned Vice President Kamala Harris to “enhance migration enforcement” at the borders of the Northern Triangle nations of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, not at our own Southwest border.
To make clear, Biden restated that he wants Harris to “lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle and the countries that help — are going to need help in stemming the movement of so many folks, stemming the migration to our southern border.”
Maybe that did not make matters clearer. In fact, many are in a state of confusion as to exactly why Harris is working on the finding the “root causes” of a migrant crisis that most agree are rooted decades of poverty, corruption, drug trafficking, natural disasters and economic stagnation. Meanwhile, the border remains on fire and it is spreading every day that nothing is done. It also is endangering the lives of thousands of migrants and border agents alike.
What does Harris believe her role is? When she accepted the broad, non-descript position, Harris blamed the last administration for “this new surge we’re dealing with now,” but added that “it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to — and to stop what’s happening.”
So what has she done to “stop what’s happening”? She has held several virtual meetings and spoken on the phone with Central American and Mexican government officials and talked migration with the president of Finland. But she has not been close to the border, nor seemingly has a plan to go near it, unless you consider a visit to Guatemala in June the southern border.
It is a far cry from the activist Sen. Harris of a year ago who was racing to detention centers and border towns. One year ago, Harris was one of 100 voices in the U.S. Senate, yet she raised hers loudly to demand the closure of the Otay Mesa detention center in California. In June of 2019, Harris was one of a number of Democratic presidential candidates to visit a migrant detention center – in this case in Homestead, Florida. While there, she protested outside the center claiming that “detaining these children at the border is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government.” Presently, she is the government detaining more than 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children.
Today, the second most powerful person in government has been publicly silent on the migrant crisis outside of one-on-one interviews with select outlets. And, somewhat ironically, she is now on the receiving end of similar protests, but has uttered nary a word.
Now in a position to affect policy directly, a visit to the southern border makes far more sense. For a brief moment after she was appointed to the help stop the migrant surge, she expressed a desire to travel south.
Appearing on CBS This Morning in late March, Harris said she and President Biden “absolutely we will go down to the border and I’ve been down to the border.” Yes, in fact Harris was down at the border a lot when she was a senator and presidential candidate.
Days and weeks went by and no plans. In that same period, the White House danced around the issue and her specific role. It actually is a very important question since border czarRoberta Jacobson is leaving at the end of April.
More recently, Harris was asked again if she and Biden planned to visit the border soon, the vice president told CNN that “we have to deal with COVID issues but I can’t get there soon enough.”
In her Sunday interview, CNN’s Dana Bash did not get clarification on what Harris meant by COVID issues, but Psaki was asked what Harris meant. After all, she, her staff and White House personnel are all vaccinated, and COVID fears have not prevented Harris or Biden from traveling across the country, including to the Northern border state of New Hampshire.
“Well, I would certainly have to ask her team about that specifically, but I would tell you also that her focus is not on the border; it’s on addressing the root causes in the Northern Triangle. And that’s why the majority of her time has been spent on working with — on a diplomatic level,” admitted Psaki on April 26.
Harris, who launched her campaign with a speech in Oakland, California, in which she called the border wall a “medieval vanity project,” even traveled the Rio Grande Valley last October in order to boost voter turnout in the region, so her fears clearly are not COVID-related.
Given the fact Democrats lost voters in the towns along the U.S.-Mexico border, maybe Harris visiting the border is not what the residents or the migrants need right now. What they do need is a serious effort to deal with the all-too-serious crisis raging out of control.