111 510 510 libonline@riphah.edu.pk Contact

Bumpy first weeks of Harris’ immigration role show challenges of the job

When President Joe Biden entrusted Vice President Kamala Harris in March with leading US diplomatic efforts to cut immigration from Mexico and Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” experts described the job as both “perilous” and a “political grenade.”

The subsequent weeks have shown just how challenging the role will be as the administration seeks to defuse a crisis at the border that Republicans have used to hammer Biden.

Harris has pushed Central American countries to increase troops at their borders and said she plans to visit Guatemala and Mexico, which could happen in as soon as a month.

At a meeting with advisers last week, which focused heavily on anti-corruption efforts, Harris spoke about tackling the root causes of migration that have plagued the region for decades – gang violence, drug-trafficking cartels, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes – with diplomacy.

But thorny issues have already surfaced with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and unaccompanied children continue to show up at the US border with Mexico.

Representatives for Harris did not comment but cited administration statements on the issue.

To succeed in her task, Harris needs to balance opposing priorities, experts and advisers said.

They include maintaining political distance from Central American leaders while conveying that the United States wants to cooperate, and long-term strategies to fix the underlying reasons people are fleeing those countries as well as small wins that can result in immediate success at home.

Harris is still calibrating the right tone, said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, who recently participated in a meeting Harris convened about problems in the region.

“The tone issue looks at how do you both recognize the need to work with the people in the region and at the same time call attention to some of the real deficits of governance in these countries,” Selee said.

The vice president is working with members of Biden’s Cabinet and the U.S. special envoy to the Northern Triangle, Ricardo Zuniga, and having weekly lunches with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a senior White House official said.

She gets updates on the region during the President’s Daily Brief and holds regular meetings on Central America with her team, the official said.

The White House’s immigration team has shown signs of strain. Roberta Jacobson, the high-profile “border czar,” is leaving at the end of the month, the White House said unexpectedly on April 9.

Tensions are also rising between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House over overloaded shelters at the border.

Harris has started working as well with the private sector to expand investment opportunities in the Northern Triangle and with international organizations about strengthening those economies, while overseeing the use and flow of aid and trying to increase ways for asylum seekers to apply from home, the official said.

In what some US experts called a challenge to the Biden administration, Guatemalan lawmakers refused on Monday to swear in a corruption-fighting judge, Constitutional Court President Gloria Porras, who US officials had seen as key to the fight against graft there.—Reuters

Nandita Bose, "Bumpy first weeks of Harris’ immigration role show challenges of the job," Business Recorder. 2021-04-21.
Keywords: Political science , Migration policy , Biden administration , Constitutional Court , Human services , Ricardo Zuniga , US

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *