Kamala Harris Says U.S. Will Enforce Law at the Southern Border

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Kamala Harris Says U.S. Will Enforce Law at the Southern Border” – below is their description.

President Joe Biden put Kamala Harris in charge of resolving a surge in migration on the U.S. southern border that’s overwhelming federal immigration authorities, handing the vice president the first major assignment of her tenure.

Biden announced Harris’s assignment on Wednesday, with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress warning of a burgeoning humanitarian crisis as growing numbers of migrant children try to enter the U.S.

“I can think of nobody who’s better qualified to do this,” Biden said at the White House. “When she speaks, she speaks for me.”

It’s the first issue that Biden has publicly asked Harris to lead, a sign that her portfolio is beginning to take shape. But the assignment also carries the risk that Harris will be blamed if the situation worsens.

The move was meant as a display of trust in Harris’s leadership, according to a senior administration official who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. Harris’s law enforcement background as the former attorney general of California was an important factor in the choice, the official said.

“This new surge we are dealing with now started in the past administration, but it is our responsibility,” Biden said.

Biden made the announcement at a White House meeting with two other officiaials overseeing the administration’s response Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Harris’s assignment is similar to a task Biden took on as former President Barack Obama’s vice president in 2014 and 2015 when unaccompanied minors from the region first began arriving in the U.S. in large numbers.

Harris will have two goals in her new role, according to another senior administration official. She’ll develop strategies to stop the flow of migrants and establish better relationships with Mexico as well as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — three countries that make up the Northern Triangle where most migrants travel from. She is expected to speak with leaders of those countries in the coming weeks, the official said.

Part of the effort will focus on persuading Mexico and Central American countries to step up enforcement at their borders, but Harris will also work to address the root causes of migration by lack of jobs and corruption in the region. Biden said $700 million in aide to the Northern Triangle countries, ended during the Trump administration, would be restored.

“There’s no question that this is a challenging situation,” Harris said. “While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law and that we also — because we can chew gum and walk at the same time — address the root causes that cause people to make the trek.”

The surge of migrants has forced Biden to take on immigration policy — a bitterly divisive issue — as he seeks to rally support across the nation for his virus relief plan and build enthusiasm for another major spending bill.

A delegation of White House officials is also visiting a temporary HHS facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, along with several members of Congress. A television camera will be allowed to cover the tour. Previously, the government has blocked news organizations from entering the facilities, citing the potential spread of coronavirus.

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