President Joe Biden has appointed Deputy President Kamanga Harris to oversee efforts by Central American countries to curb the influx of immigrants to the southern border of the US, the first problem Biden has specifically identified as No. 2.
"I asked him, VP, today, because he is the most qualified person to do so, to lead our efforts with Mexico and the North Triangle, and countries that can help, who need help to stop the movement of so many people, and therefore to move to our southern border," Biden told reporters ahead of the immigration conference. at the White House State Dining Room.
"I said when we became a party we were elected that the vice president would be the last person in the room," he said. "He doesn't realize that that means he gets all the jobs."
The work mimics Biden's efforts in 2014 and 2015, when he was asked by then-President Barack Obama to lead consultation efforts in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador following the outbreak of anti-immigrant children who first arrived in the US.
Immigrants also arrived at the border with rising rates, creating an uproar by the settlers and the White House political crisis.
"Thank you, Mr. President, for having confidence in me. There is no question that this is a challenging situation," Harris said on Wednesday. "While it is clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will apply the law and that we - because we can chew gum and travel at the same time - must address the root causes of travel, as the President has explained, to come here."
Authorities said Harris would focus on his efforts to curb the current flow of immigrants and to develop greater cooperation with Central American countries in terms of respect and shared values.
"Starting today, the Northern Triangle and Mexico will know that there is only one official committed to this task," the chief executive said on Wednesday looking at Harris' new role.
The vice-president, so far, has not focused on a key portfolio issue that differs from Biden. Instead, he committed himself as a “full partner” to Biden, appearing repeatedly physically next to him in all administrative efforts, including their primary commitment to managing the coronavirus epidemic.
Those close to Harris said foreign policy and national security were key areas he wanted to improve on his portfolio, and had taken steps to strengthen his knowledge since taking office, including talking to foreign leaders.
During his presidency, Harris said he would increase the use of immigration programs and use administrative measures to remove the threat of deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants to the US if elected President.
He said on Wednesday earlier in an interview with CBS News that White House was frustrated with the current situation.
"Look, we've been working for less than 100 days," he said. "We're talking about it. We're dealing with it, but it's going to take time, and we're frustrated? Are you frustrated? Yes, that's right."
Officials say Harris will rely on his experience as attorney general and manager from California, a border country, to inform him of his consultation efforts.
They said he would be supported by cabinet officials, including the Department of State and USAID, and would likely speak to key leaders of key countries, even though they did not have any precautionary measures.
Officials say Biden brought Harris into this new role because of the natural level of trust.
"He has experience and lives through this process as a vice president himself," the official said. "Biden often refers to the person I trust the most, the person I turn to when there is a serious problem, is Kamala Harris."
However, a different official said that Harrison would take a different approach than Biden, who traveled to Guatemala City in 2015 for a trilateral meeting with leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in part to work out solutions for the deportation of immigrants from the United States.
"Deputy President Harris has taken up the challenge in his own way, in his own way," the official said.