Republicans don’t want Kamala Harris to succeed on immigration. That’s why she must
Harris’ biggest hurdle won’t be headquartered in Central America. It’s right here at home, where legions of Republican elected officials and activists are champing at the bit.
The migration crisis at America’s southern border has put the Biden administration in a sticky wicket.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden tapped his second-in-command, Vice President Kamala Harris, to head the effort to curb the migration of families and unaccompanied children fleeing Mexico and Central America for the lifeline just across America’s border.
Biden told reporters: “I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this.”
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Biden officials said Harris will have two goals: “Working to slow the flow of ‘irregular migrants’ by addressing ‘the root causes’ that prompt them to leave their home countries,” Politico reports, “as well as strengthening relationships” with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where most of the migrants come from.
Harris will need to play the role of diplomat and tackle issues from poverty to international development, to border security and enforcement.
“There’s no question that this is a challenging situation,” Harris acknowledged.
“While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law,” Harris declared at a White House meeting. “We also — because we can chew gum and walk at the same time — must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek.”
The good news: Biden is trusting Harris with this weighty assignment. The bad news: Biden is trusting Harris with this weighty assignment.
It demonstrates a well-placed confidence in Harris, who made history when she became the first woman, African American and Asian American elected to the vice presidency. The former California attorney general and U.S. senator has the chops for the job.
But immigration is fraught and dangerous territory for this young administration. The Democrats spent years excoriating former President Donald Trump for mishandling the border crisis and for his administration’s hostility to immigrant rights.
Now it’s Biden’s turn.
Vice presidents, eager to prove their mettle, are often rewarded with the thorniest tasks.
Last year, when Trump assigned then-Vice President Mike Pence to honcho the White House Coronavirus Task Force, my first thought was, “Well, there goes that political career.”
Trump spent the rest of his presidency in COVID-19 denial, ensuring the federal response to the pandemic would be botched. How could Trump’s ever-loyal vice president fix a problem his boss refused to own?
President Barack Obama once assigned a vice president by the name of Joe Biden to work on the border issue by engaging our neighbors to the south.
Biden visited Central America several times and tried to work with officials to stem the burgeoning tide of migrants heading our way. Given that thousands of children and families have continued to flood our borders, Biden clearly failed.
But Harris’ biggest hurdle won’t be headquartered in Central America. It’s right here at home, where legions of Republican elected officials and activists are champing at the bit. They aim to demolish all Biden administration initiatives, and especially one that seeks a humane policy for handling desperate migrants who seek harbor.
They are already slamming Harris, labeling her record as soft on immigration enforcement. And, as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey argues, that Harris is unfit.
“She’s about the worst possible choice that one could make,” the Republican governor told reporters Wednesday. “At no point in her career has she given any indication that she considers the border a problem or a serious threat.”
They don’t want Harris to succeed. That’s why she must.
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