Kamala Harris can't get to Central America 'soon enough', says need to give hope that 'help is on the way'
Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday, April 25, said she is yet to pay a visit to Central America in the capacity of border ‘czar’ because of the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc worldwide. The 56-year-old, who was put in charge of tackling the migrants’ problem at the Mexican border by President Joe Biden last month, has come under criticism recently for not making a visit to the border to assess the situation there.
Speaking to CNN’s ‘State of the Union’, the veep said: “Yes, we’re working on a plan to get there, we’re working through Covid issues.” The White House has defended the vice president against the criticism saying her task is to understand the “root causes” of the migration taking place in Mexico and “Northern Triangle” countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Several people are migrating from the Central American countries to the US owing to factors like pandemic, domestic violence, corruption and natural disasters. "I can't get there soon enough," Harris said in the interview. She also said the issue is complex and can't be resolved overnight.
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Earlier in April, Harris said she is planning to visit Guatemala ‘soon’ with a stop in Mexico. The White House later said the VP’s trip could take place in June. Harris, however, said that she will not be visiting the border during that trip since Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is in charge of addressing the crisis there.
“I come at this issue from the perspective that most people don’t want to leave home,” Harris told host Dana Bash.
Vice President Kamala Harris on addressing the root causes of migration: "We have to give people some sense of hope that if they stay that help is on the way." #CNNSOTU https://t.co/dcOKYcUCX0 pic.twitter.com/pb2PPMxQLt— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 25, 2021
“They don’t want to leave their grandparents; they don’t want to leave the place where they grew up, where they speak the language, where they know the culture. That place is home. And when they do, it’s usually for one of two reasons. They’re fleeing some harm or they cannot stay and satisfy the basic necessities of life, such as feeding their children and having a roof over their head.”
'We have to give people some sense of hope'
“We have to give people some sense of hope that if they stay, that help is on the way,” Harris said, claiming she is working with several Cabinet officials on diplomatic relationships with the three Northern Triangle nations to enable them address the factors that are causing the migration taking place through Mexico.
Harris has faced huge backlash for not visiting the border even once in more than a month since she was assigned the task of looking into the border crisis. Recently, she was heavily criticized for visiting a sweet shop in Chicago to pick a box of German chocolate cake though the White House defended her act.
On Monday, April 26, Harris was set to speak with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei online on the issue and with the country’s civil leaders later in the week. On May 7, she is set to hold a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to discuss the migration issue and the growing number of minor migrants at the southern border.
The Biden administration, which started reversing a number of border policies of the previous Donald Trump administration from Day 1, has faced criticism from both the Republicans and a section of the Democrats. While the opponents have accused the Biden-Harris administration of compromising national security with its immigration policy by allowing in people with tainted records and coronavirus, some Democrats have slammed the move of keeping unaccompanied children in detention facilities.