By Lucia Leal
Washington, Jun 25 (EFE).- President Joe Biden’s administration is “absolutely committed to ensuring that our immigration system is orderly and humane, and I do believe that we are making progress in that regard,” US Vice President Kamala Harris said Friday during a visit to the border with Mexico.
Three months after Biden assigned her the task of working with Central American nations to reduce the flow of undocumented migrants to the United States, Harris’ first trip to the border as vice president took her to El Paso, Texas.
She met with five Central American girls, ages 9-16, at a processing center and received briefings from US Border Patrol agents.
The vice president was accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Democratic lawmakers Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a long-time champion of immigration reform.
Her encounter with the young migrants reminder her that the border “cannot be reduced to a political issue,” Harris told a press conference. “We’re talking about children. We’re talking about families. We’re talking about suffering.”
The vice president, who was born in California to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, drew criticism from immigrants rights advocates and progressive Democrats when she told potential migrants “do not come” during a visit to Guatemala earlier this month.
In a subsequent interview with Efe, Harris said that the Biden administration was determined to ensure that asylum-seekers can find refuge in the US.
“I strongly believe that most people don’t want to leave home,” Harris said Friday. “And when they do, it is because either they are fleeing some harm or because to stay means that they cannot provide for the basic necessities of their family.”
The trip to El Paso followed weeks of attacks from Republicans over the vice president’s failure to go to the border and see the situation first-hand.
Harris had responded to those attacks by saying that her mission is to address the root causes of migration, which is why she traveled to Guatemala and Mexico.
“The work that we have to do is the work of addressing the cause, the root causes. Otherwise we will continue to see the effect – what is happening at the border,” she said Friday.
Any hopes the vice president had that her trip to El Paso would silence Republicans were quickly dispelled. Former President Donald Trump accused her of making the visit only because he announced plans for his own expedition to the border on June 30.
But Harris did receive praise from activists for taking the time to meet with them.
“So, mission accomplished. She listened. She heard our community,” the executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, Fernando Garcia said. EFE