Politics Harris: Biden sending an extra $310 million in aid to Central America
Fact check: Biden's speech had an estimated 26.9 million viewers
The president’s first address to Congress had 26.9 million viewers, not 11.6 million as claimed in a social media post.An April 29 Facebook post from James T. Harris, a conservative radio host and social media personality, lists television ratings for five past presidential addresses — four from former President Donald Trump and one from Biden. The post says Biden’s address to Congress had only 11.6 million viewers, compared to 37.2 million viewers for Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech.
Kamala Harris held an event on Monday related to her role as 'border czar' for the first time in five weeks where she revealed the U.S. will send $310 million to the Northern Triangle.
'The United States has announced we will send an additional $310 million to the region,' she said.
The vice president's comments come as the administration plans to send $4 billion to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador over the next four years.
During her remarks at the 51st Annual Washington Conference on the Americas Harris underlined her role addressing 'root causes' of migration.
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'We want to help people find hope at home,' Harris said in encouraging people to stay in their home countries. 'And so we are focused on addressing both the acute factors and the root causes of migration.'
She also made clear if 'corruption' in the region is not addressed, it could undo any other progress made there.
'No matter how much effort we put in on curbing violence, on providing disaster relief, on tackling food insecurity, on all of it, we will not make significant progress if corruption in the region persists,' she said.
Harris added: 'If corruption persists, history has told us, it will be one step forward and two steps back. And we know, corruption causes government institutions to collapse from within.'
How Joe Biden's speech to Congress differs from past presidential addresses
Things will look a lot different during the annual presidential address, from COVID-19 guidelines to history being made behind the podium.The address, which technically is not called the State of the Union, will be the first time a U.S. president speaks to both houses of Congress since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as former President Donald Trump delivered his last State of the Union on Feb. 4, 2020.
She discussed during the less than 30-minute remarks ways to help stop mass migration from Northern Triangle countries to the U.S., adding the administration 'believes in the potential of the region.'
'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,' she said.
'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.'
Harris has held two closed-door meetings with outside experts and philanthropists related to the mass migration crisis at the southern border.
She hasn't however visited the border or before this point held any public remarks or events in her capacity in the five weeks since being named in charge of the crisis.
'Our Administration is implementing a comprehensive strategy with governments, international institutions, the private sector, foundations, and community organizations,' she detailed. 'The idea here is that our work will be coordinated— and that every sector will have a role to play.'
Transcript: Joe Biden delivers speech to joint session of Congress
The president spoke to a limited crowd due to the pandemic. The setting was very different from a typical address, though. Due to the pandemic, tickets were limited and social distancing rules were in place.
Harris listed some issues at hand, including natural disasters, climate change and poverty.
On Monday, Harris delivered her remarks to the conference, which were live streamed, from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building's South Court Auditorium.
Republicans have been highly critical of Harris not visiting the border to see the humanitarian crisis for herself – and largely remaining silent publicly on her role.
Harris' remarks Monday came just before she jetted off for a day trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she will promote the proposed $2 trillion American Jobs Plan plan.
The White House has repeatedly tried to rebrand Harris' position, claiming she is looking to help fix situations in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to help quell migration to the U.S. by making situations in Central American countries more desirable.
Since she was named 'border czar', Harris has traveled to many other places in the U.S. other than the border, where she has touted the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and Biden's proposed trillions in spending for real and 'human' infrastructure development.
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Vice President Kamala Harris was huddled with other White House officials in President Joe Biden's private dining room last week when the room let out a "collective exhale." A Minnesota jury had found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd. © Evan Vucci/AP Vice President Kamala Harris speaks Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the White House in Washington, after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
This has garnered even more criticism from those on the left who say she isn't taking her role – or the crisis – seriously.
The White House says it is planning a trip for Harris to visit Guatemala and Mexico this summer, but she will not stop at the border.
Last week, Harris had a bilateral meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and will meet virtually with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday.
This week, the administration also plans to start reuniting families separated under former President Donald Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policies, which led to thousands of children being separated from their families.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a call with reporters Sunday night that four families of the estimated 1,000 that remain separated will be reunited this week.
Two of the four include mothers – one Mexican and one Honduran – who were separated from their children in 2017, Mayorkas detailed without providing their identities.
He described the range of children from 3-years-old at the time of separation to 'teenagers who have had to live without their parent during their most formative years.'
Republicans are also furious over President Biden's plan to send $4 billion in aid to Northern Triangle countries in order to address 'root causes' of mass migration.
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Two top House Republicans are demanding the Biden administration hand over documents related to the plan, which would send the money over four years to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Representatives James Comer, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and Jason Smith, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, wrote a letter to acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young calling Biden's plan 'naive and misguided.'
'In the midst of a border crisis propelled by the Biden Administration reversing successful deterrent policies, it is worrisome that the Administration's solution isn't to reinstate those policies or replace them with workable solutions, but instead to funnel more money to pay countries to dissuade their citizens to break U.S. laws, particularly countries with corruption concerns,' they wrote in the letter.
Harris' remarks Monday come as pictures from border facilities released by the DHS Monday show a more optimistic image of the crisis.
The images show the McAllen, Texas holding and processing facility nearly empty, when pictures from the same facility last month showed overflowing pens with children nearly stacked on top of each other on mats on a concrete floor with mylar blankets.
Mayorkas also revealed there was an 88 per cent drop in the number of unaccompanied minor migrants in Customs and Border Protection custody compared to five weeks ago.
These children, for the most part, are likely still in federal custody, just transferred from CBP facilities to Health and Human Services facilities that are better equipped and staffed to handle the cases and work on reunification with their family.
New numbers from over the weekend show only 677 unaccompanied minor migrants remain in CBP facilities compared to March 28, when there were 5,767.
CBP has been able to almost double the rate it processes children and more quickly transfer them to shelters and emergency housing facilities set up by HHS.
Despite the expediting processing, the number of illegal crossings have not slowed.
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