“the work will not be easy,” calling the influx at the U.S. border with Mexico “a challenging situation.”
President Joe Biden of the United States has chosen Vice President Kamala Harris to take charge of one of the biggest challenges confronting his administration in its early months.
“We’re going to be dealing with a full team now,” Biden said Wednesday. “I can’t think of nobody who was better qualified to do this,” he said, noting Harris’ past experience as the attorney general of California, a border state.
“When she speaks, she speaks for me, doesn’t have to check with me,” added Biden. “She knows what she’s doing.”
The president told Harris, a former U.S. senator and daughter of immigrants, “I gave you a tough job, and you’re smiling.”
Harris, alongside the president, noted “the work will not be easy,” calling the influx at the U.S. border with Mexico “a challenging situation.”
The vice president said she looked forward to engaging in diplomacy with government leaders and the private sector of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as collaborating with Mexico and other countries in the hemisphere.
“While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law. And also, because we can chew gum and walk at the same time, we must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek,” Harris said.
Biden and Harris refused to answer any questions from a group of newsmen who were brought into the White House State Dining Room for the announcement, which came as the president was meeting with immigration advisers and top Cabinet officials. They are trying to figure out how to cope with the surge of mostly Central American migrants crossing the border.
The appointment of Harris to the new role is being welcomed by one organization advancing a pro-immigrant congressional agenda.
“She understands that a mother does not send her child thousands of miles away lightly, but it is a painful decision driven by terrible circumstances such as violence and natural disasters,” said Sergio Gonzales, executive director of The Immigration Hub.
The White House has been going through increasing pressure in recent days from Republican critics and congressional Democrats to respond to the stream of Central American migrants walking hundreds of kilometers north through Mexico.
When he took office two months ago, Biden blocked further construction of the border wall championed by former President Donald Trump and embraced what he said would be more humane treatment of migrants.
Biden has told migrants to not make the treacherous trek, but many migrants have viewed his policy shift as an invitation to make the journey on the assumption that if they make it past the U.S.-Mexico border, they will be allowed to stay.