Ditch politics to fix immigration, says Harris at US-Mexico border
WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) – Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday visited a border patrol facility near the US-Mexico border and urged a focus on children and practical solutions to migration, during the ‘a trip meant to blunt Republican criticism of White House immigration policies.
The visit – her first since becoming vice president five months ago – came amid an increase in the number of migrants caught crossing the border, sparking outrage from supportive Republicans the stricter immigration policies implemented by former President Donald Trump.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has tasked Harris with leading his administration’s handling of the broader issue of people fleeing Central American countries to the United States. She visited Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month.
“This issue cannot be reduced to a political issue. We are talking about children, we are talking about families, we are talking about suffering. And our approach has to be thoughtful and effective,” Harris said at the end of his speech. short trip.
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Republicans have criticized Biden for overturning restrictive Trump-era immigration policies even as arrests of migrants on the US-Mexico border have peaked in 20 years in recent months. They also criticized Harris for not visiting the border earlier.
Harris was accompanied to El Paso by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, and Texas Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar, who called the El Paso area the new “Ellis Island.” , a reference to the famous New York Harbor area that handled millions of immigrants when they entered the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Immigration, and in particular the arrival of asylum seekers at the southern border of the United States, has been a hot topic for decades. Multiple attempts to reform US laws and create a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants living illegally in the country have failed in Congress.
Democrats and activists urged Biden to further reduce enforcement and ensure humane treatment of migrant children and families arriving at the border.
During the trip, Harris also met with advocates who have urged his administration to end a Trump-era policy that allows U.S. officials to quickly deport migrants to Mexico or their countries of origin, according to the ‘one of the participants, Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights based in El Paso.
Harris, who visited the border as a senator and attorney general for California, was attacked by Republicans when she visited Mexico and Guatemala as part of her efforts to curb migration from the region to the United States.
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A White House official said Harris’s timeline was not dictated by Trump’s decisions. “I can assure you that we are not taking inspiration from the former president,” the official said.
“I said in March that I was coming to the border, so it’s not a new plan,” Harris told reporters after landing in Texas. “Coming to the border… is looking at the effects of what we have seen happening in Central America. “
Republicans have criticized Harris for choosing El Paso over the area they designate as a hot spot for increased border crossings.
“While it is certainly positive that she is taking this step, I am disappointed that she does not make it to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) – the very epicenter of this crisis,” the acting secretary said. to Homeland Security Chad Wolf under Trump in a statement.
Theresa Cardinal Brown, director general of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, said many Republicans have embraced Trump’s sweeping immigration policies as they prepare for the US Congressional elections in 2022, believing it would win them voters.
“They think it’s something that can win them seats in 2022, so of course they’re going to play it,” she said. “They will try to make it a problem.”
Reporting by Nandita Bose and Ted Hesson, editing by Kieran Murray and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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