Washington, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- United States President Joe Biden has appointed his deputy Kamala Harris to oversee efforts with Mexico and Central American countries to curb the influx of migrants to the US’ southern border.
At the White House, Biden told reporters Wednesday that he could think of “nobody who is better qualified to do this” than Harris.
“When she speaks, she speaks for me,” said Biden, who as deputy to Barack Obama assumed a similar role.
In response to her appointment, Harris said there was “no question that this is a challenging situation” and spoke of the need to strengthen the border as well as ties with the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and for collaboration with the private sector.
Specifically, the vice president will have two tasks, administration officials detailed in a telephone press conference.
The first objective will be to stop the irregular arrival of migrants to the US with measures to strengthen the border, and programs so that Central Americans can have their asylum requests processed while they are inside their countries of origin.
Secondly, Harris will oversee diplomatic efforts to strengthen collaboration with the Northern Triangle countries, where most of the migrants who have arrived in the US in recent weeks come from.
In this sense, Harris’ goal will be to help those nations fight corruption, provide economic opportunities for their citizens, and strengthen their institutions and the rule of law.
The vice president has already begun to assume her new responsibilities. On Wednesday, she spoke by phone with the high-level US delegation that met with the Mexican government on Tuesday and will now go to Guatemala. Currently, Harris has no plans to travel to Central America.
Irregular migration from Central America to the US has grown in recent months and the reception system has collapsed, prompting criticism of the Biden government.
Specifically, criticism has focused on the situation of minors who have crossed the border in recent weeks and who have had to stay longer than stipulated by law in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) centers that are designed for adults.
According to government sources cited by the media, the CBP has around 5,000 minors in its custody, while the Department of Health shelters currently host about 15,000 children and adolescents who have crossed the border without their parents or a legal guardian. EFE-EPA