By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C. Fri. Mar. 26, 2021: Is the US’ first black Caribbean American Vice President, Kamala Harris, also now President Joe Biden’s immigration czar?
Looks like Biden has found a real “job” for Harris, the daughter of immigrants, much like President Barack Obama found for him when there was that other border crisis of unaccompanied minors.
President Biden at his first press conference since taking the oath of office on Jan. 20th, yesterday said he has tasked Vice President Harris with leading efforts to coordinate with Mexico and the Northern Triangle nations.
“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this” than Harris, the president said at the White House presser, where he was peppered with questions about the border crisis. “When she speaks, she speaks for me, doesn’t have to check with me.”
The assignment is Harris’ first major policy role since she was sworn in in January.
This week, she called the situation at the border “a huge problem.” But now she will have to work to find real solutions to deliver for Biden and the administration, that’s grappling with the new immigration crisis even as it tries to jump start immigration reform.
Harris will have to work to stem the flow of people coming to the border, thousands of whom are unaccompanied children. This after Biden reversed Trump-era immigration policies and ended the practice of expelling unaccompanied minors.
At the White House, Biden said that Harris’ prior experience as attorney general of California made her well-suited for this new responsibility. Still, he acknowledged to Harris that “I gave you a tough job.”
Harris, however, thanked Biden for his “confidence” while adding that “the work will not be easy, but it is important work.”
“It is work that we demand and the people of our countries, I believe, need to help stem the tide that we have seen,” the US’ Veep and daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother added.
Harris will also have to work to strengthen diplomatic ties with Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to address the root causes of the region’s migrant problems and plans to coordinate with international organizations and private-sector entities as part of her efforts.
Harris is also set to work with Ricardo Zuniga, Biden’s new special envoy for the Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Biden’s selection of Harris to manage the crisis, however, drew criticism from Arizona governor Doug Ducey, who labeled her the “worst possible choice” to lead the administration’s response.
“She’s about the worst possible choice that one could make,” Ducey said to reporters Thursday. “At no point in her career has she given any indication that she considers the border a problem or a serious threat.”
Two days earlier Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said that while Harris is laughing and DHS’ Caribbean born secretary Alex Mayorkas is lying about the border crisis, President Biden is simply “lost” on the issue.
HARRIS’ RECORD ON IMMIGRATION
During her time as California attorney general, Harris opposed efforts by national Republicans that targeted sanctuary cities and states, writing that “criminal justice policy should not be conflated with national immigration policy.” She also established legal clinics and job training programs for ex-convicts that allowed illegal aliens to participate.
In the Senate, Harris became a leading opponent of the Trump administration’s immigration agenda, with Vox labeling her as the “anti-Jeff Sessions,” referencing the then-U.S. attorney general who was then a prominent supporter of immigration enforcement. She publicly announced that she would not vote for any spending bills unless they contained protections for recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and vehemently opposed the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the executive memorandum.
Harris also voted against a compromise that would have given the Trump administration $25 billion to construct a border wall in exchange for a DACA amnesty. During the Senate confirmation hearing of Ronald Vitiello, President Trump’s then-nominee to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Harris compared the immigration enforcement agency to the Ku Klux Klan.
Harris released an immigration policy plan that was in lockstep with the progressive wing of the Democratic party during her short-lived campaign for President, promising to take executive action to keep immigrant families together and eliminate barriers that prevent Dreamers from accessing a path to U.S. citizenship. She had also promised to resurrect the Obama-era Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), a program that lower courts struck down as unconstitutional.
With her hand thrust on the wheel now on the hot button issue, it is left to seen if Harris will deliver for Biden, immigration reform and immigrants.