United States (US) President Joe Biden on Wednesday, 25 March, tasked Vice President (VP) Kamala Harris with overseeing the administration’s efforts to check the influx of migrants at the Mexican border.
Announcing Harris’ assignment, on Wednesday, Biden said:
This assignment marks the first time Biden has publicly asked Harris to lead. However, it comes with its own set of significant challenges.
VP Harris, on her part, has said: “There’s no question that this is a challenging situation.”
Thus, Kamala Harris’s plan, evidently, is to both check the presence of migrants at the border as well as to address the “push factors” which compel people to go to the borders, in the first place.
THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM
The new Biden administration has been under flak from critics, with both Republicans, as well as Democrats warning of a “burgeoning humanitarian crisis” as an increasing number of migrant children try to enter the US.
Republicans have also blamed Biden, saying that the migrant crisis at the Mexican border worsened once he started rolling back Trump’s policies.
Citing agency data, Bloomberg has reported that more than 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children are in the custody of United States Department of Health and Human Services, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). As per American law, apprehended children are not supposed to spend any more than 72 hours in CBP custody before they are transferred to HHS shelters.
However, Bloomberg reports that owing to lack of shelter space - further exacerbated by COVID-19 related distancing restrictions - many children are forced to stay in CBP facilities that are unfit for them for longer periods. Consequentially, the administration is exploring other options, including opening an emergency site at Carrizo Springs.
A per a Washington Post article, the actual nature of the challenge posed before Harris entails getting more space up and running quickly to deal with children and teens currently “jamming” border facilities.
Further, Washington Post quotes Hamed Aleaziz as saying that the real border issue is a management one.
WHAT BIDEN, HARRIS ARE SAYING
Biden, on his part, has blamed the “new surge” on the past (Trump) administration, but, has added, that “it is our responsibility”.
Harris, in an interview to CBS, reportedly expressed frustration with the situation and said: “Look, we’ve been in office less than 100 days.”
CHALLENGES BEFORE KAMALA HARRIS
This development has naturally been reported extensively in United States media, often with a range of perspectives attached.
Greg Sargent, writing for Washington Post, has dubbed it “a big deal”, saying:
Jordan Fabian and Jennifer Jacobs, for Bloomberg, have written:
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that the US President Biden is trying to stem border surge with diplomacy and more shelter space.
(With inputs from Bloomberg, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal.)
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