(Headline USA) Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday that efforts to address root causes of migration from three Central American countries won’t produce immediate results as she unveiled her strategy that does little to explain or solve the Biden administration’s ineptness on the crisis.
Harris said the United States alone cannot tackle deep-seated motives for people to leave Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, including corruption, violence and poverty.
The governments of Mexico, Japan and South Korea, along with the United Nations, have committed to joining the push, she said without elaborating.
The plan, which avoids deadlines, supports unspecific short-term relief for migration pressures like “extreme weather” while committing sustained attention to long-term motivations for people to leave their countries.
“We will build on what works, and we will pivot away from what does not work,” Harris wrote in an introduction to the 20-page plan. “It will not be easy, and progress will not be instantaneous, but we are committed to getting it right.”
Critics said whatever Harris is proposing is just more of the same.
“The Vice President’s new ‘strategy’ implies she had a strategy to begin with,” said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “For months she and President Biden have hidden, waffled, and done everything but tackle this crisis head on. Meanwhile, the situation on the border has gone from bad, to worse, to a catastrophe.
“Vice President Harris and the Biden Administration have yet to demonstrate they have the knowledge, experience, or will to fix the border crisis,” he added.
Harris noted that she recently traveled to Guatemala, “where one of the largest challenges is corruption” — as though every other nation of the world, including the United States and the Biden administration — don’t also suffer from it.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it suspended cooperation with Guatemala’s Attorney General’s Office after the firing of the agency’s top anti-corruption prosecutor, saying it “lost confidence” in the country’s willingness to fight corruption.
The White House also released a “Collaborative Migration Management Strategy,” which Biden ordered in February to outline how the United States will work with other countries to address migration flows.
The 14-page document summarizes earlier announcements and espouses goals that Biden and top aides have outlined before. They include expanding protections and job opportunities in countries where people are leaving, creating more legal pathways to come to the United States and fostering “secure and humane management of borders.”
The administration has struggled for short- and long-term responses to the crisis.
U.S. border authorities reported large numbers of arrivals at the Mexican border in June, with significant increases in people arriving in families and children traveling alone. The trend appears to be continuing in July, when soaring temperatures often deter people from coming.
A group of 509 migrants from Central and South America turned themselves in Monday night in Hidalgo, Texas, hours after another group of 336 migrants was encountered nearby, said Brian Hastings, the Border Patrol sector chief in Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings.
On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said it resumed fast-track deportations, known as expedited removals, for “certain” families that don’t express fear of being returned home. While it never announced a suspension, many families that enter the country illegally have been getting released in the United States with orders to appear in immigration court or report to immigration authorities.
Cornyn had more specific suggestions for the administration.
“A successful strategy focuses on making reforms to speed up adjudication of asylum claims by judges, protect unaccompanied children, and deter those who do not have real claims from making the journey altogether,” he said. “My bipartisan bill would do just that, and I stand ready to work with the Administration to actually fix this.”
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.