Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tasked with being the “point person” on immigration issues by President Joe Biden on March 24, announced how she intends to combat the ongoing border crisis at the Washington Conference on the Americas.
The solution? Fighting climate change.
“Last week, President Joe Biden and I reached the 100th day of our administration. In that time, we have let the world know, and the president has been very clear about this, America is back. We have rejoined the Paris Agreement, we are ending our nation’s longest war, we are rebuilding our alliances and engaging partners all over the world, and we are revitalizing our relationships throughout the Western Hemisphere from the southern most parts of South America to the northern most parts of Canada and everywhere in between,” Harris’ speech began.
“The strength of the United States of America depends on the strength of all of the Western Hemisphere. In so many ways, our fates are intertwined,” Harris said later. “That is especially true of Latin America, one of our fastest growing trade partners, to be sure our relationship with Latin America is bigger than trade and our relationship is incredibly complex and at times has been incredibly complicated.”
“Today, I want to make clear that our administration firmly believes in the potential of the region and in the power of the people of the region. Latin Americans are shaping their own future. They are writing their story. They hold the pen. As I see it, our role is to read those words, take them in, and help however we can as Latin America writes its own next chapter. Put another way, the United States is committed to supporting the vision of the people in the region in their needs for relief, in their hope for opportunity, in their calls for justice.”
Harris then continued to vaguely address the border crisis, describing it as an “immediate situation.”
“Eight years ago, President Joe Biden addressed this conference. Then vice president, he led our nation’s diplomatic efforts within the Northern Triangle and with Mexico. Recently, he asked me to take the lead,” Harris said. “This is a priority for our nation and a role that I take very seriously. We are all well aware of the immediate situation. The citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras are leaving their homes at alarming rates, but there’s a fundamental truth behind that headline.”
That truth, according to Harris, is that “People in the region do not want to leave their homes.”
“They do not want to leave the communities they have known their entire lives; the church they go to every Sunday, the park they take their children to, their friends, their family, their community. I do believe they leave only when they feel they must.”
Harris then drew a link between the influx of migration and climate change.
“I’m thinking about people whose homes have been washed away by hurricanes, people who are parents who have sons who have been threatened by drug cartels, people who have daughters who have been targeted by human traffickers, people who do not have enough to eat, people who are out of work, people who have lost hope. That’s why they leave home and come to the United States. They are suffering. They are in pain. Many are experiencing unimaginable anguish,” Harris stated.
“We want to help people find hope at home, and so we are focused on addressing both the acute factors and the root causes of migration. I believe this is an important distinction. We must focus on both,” Harris said. “First, the acute factors, the catastrophes that are causing people to leave right now; the hurricanes, the pandemic, the drought, and extreme food insecurity. Then there are the long standing issues, the root causes. I’m thinking of corruption, violence and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance.”
Later, Harris said that “The work from combating corruption to combating climate change will not be easy, and it is not new, and it could not be more important, and it will take all of us, all of us,” adding that “The United States cannot do it alone.”
As part of her plans, Harris said that she will soon “meet virtually with the president of Mexico,” and “In a month from now, I will visit [Guatemala and Mexico].” Harris also said that the United States will “send an additional $310 million to the region.”