Politics Marooned on a migration policy 'island,' Harris hit from all sides after uneven trip
Who is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president who met with Kamala Harris today?
Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador meets with Harris Tuesday as she leads efforts to stem illegal immigration at the southern border.The Vice President met with community organizers, business owners and Presidents Alejandro Giammattei and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leaders of Guatemala and Mexico, respectively. In March, President Joe Biden tasked Harris with addressing an increase in migration — including unaccompanied minors — at the southern border.
Vice President Kamala Harris returned from Mexico on Wednesday facing criticism from all sides and putting a spotlight on the challenges she faces with a notoriouslythat has plagued Republican and Democratic administrations for decades.
Though Harristhe trip a “success,” hanging over the two-day swing were comments that left Democrats puzzled, drawing the ire of liberals and political opponents.
“She didn't pitch a shutout,” one Democratic strategist said of the visit, Harris's first foreign trip as vice president.
And if an issue is a political problem for a vice president, it's likely an even bigger one for the president.
Harris turns focus to Mexico on trip to address migration
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is closing out her first foreign trip Tuesday with a visit to Mexico and a meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a key but complicated ally in the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the spike in migration at the U.S. border. While Lopez Obrador committed in a previous virtual meeting with Harris that the U.S. can “count on us” to help address the issue of irregular migration, the Mexican president has in the past blamed President Joe Biden for the increase in migration at the border. And he was chummy with his predecessor, President Donald Trump, despite Trump’s hardline polcies towards migrants.
Speaking with NBC News’s Lester Holt, Harris was probed on why she hasn’t visited the U.S.-Mexico border, a refrain since President Joe Biden tasked her with addressing the surge in migration from Central America.
Another strategist told the Washington Examiner that now would be the time to do this.
“Honestly, my view is she needs to go to the f*****g border and just say, ‘Yeah, I've been to the border,’” he said.
But while Harris’s response was frustrating, she was dealt a tricky hand, both Democrats said.
"Part of the failure is in how [the White House] framed her role," the first person said. The second called the issue a “minefield.”
Kamala Harris Sticks to 'Root Causes' Migration Message, Doesn't Respond to AOC's Criticism
"This is disappointing to see," Ocasio-Cortex said in a tweet. "First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival. Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can't help set someone's house on fire and then blame them for fleeing." This is disappointing to see.First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival.Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing. https://t.
“This isn’t ribbon-cutting,” he added.
The White House needs to “figure out how to give her some support and some backup going forward,” the first strategist said, likening her perch to an "island."
“I don't think the president wants her to be out here by herself opining on immigration," he said. "I also don't think the president necessarily wants her to be his sole, primary messenger on the issue. And I think what has kind of become the case is that ‘Oh, this is her beat. She's on the immigration beat.’”
He added: “I think they just kind of flubbed the rollout. It's not criminal. It's government.”
Harris has taken on the diplomatic assignment of keeping people from migrating to the southern border, a longer-term process which she has sought to distance from the immediate crisis along the southern border, where government data shows illegal crossings reaching a 20-year high.
“It’s hard to maintain that distinction in political terms,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. “It is not surprising that if you are leading efforts to attack root causes, people are going to say that root causes are producing these migration flows, and we have a real problem with the border.”
Harris told to 'go home' by protesters during her trip to Guatemala
Kamala Harris was greeted with protesters demanding she 'mind her own business' when she arrived in Guatemala for her first international trip as vice president. 'Kamala go home,' one white flag with black painted letters read.
Shifter, a policy expert for the region, said Harris succeeded in keeping expectations in check while marking some difference from the Trump administration’s approach, “which ignored serious problems of corruption, smuggling, lack of economic opportunity, and violence that propel Central Americans from those countries.”
“They're small steps that can be built on,” he continued. “The real problem, which was glaringly evident, is that the partners in the region are not very committed to the same goals as the Biden administration.”
While the White House has been criticized for inconsistencies, with regional leaders charging that the administration has encouraged the uptick in numbers, during her visit in Guatemala City, Harris was pointed in her attempt to dissuade people from leaving.
“Do not come. Do not come,” Harris said during a press conference. "The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border.”
Harris drew criticism from immigration advocates at home and from prominent liberal lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, who called Harris’s plea “disappointing to see.”
Harris visits Latin America to tackle migration, corruption
WASHINGTON (AP) — Kamala Harris, on her first foreign trip as vice president, is looking to deepen diplomatic ties with Guatemala and Mexico, two Latin American nations key to the Biden administration's efforts to stem the spike in migration at the U.S. border. Harris, who is set to depart Washington later Sunday, is seeking to secure commitments for greater cooperation on border security and economic investment, but corruption in the region — a far more intractable challenge — will complicate her efforts. It’s already had a significant impact on her work in the region.
Harris’s delivery “was not as nuanced as it might have been,” said Shifter, but there’s a sense “that this is an area where the Biden administration is vulnerable to attacks.”
Though Harris has been asked to deal with the push factors driving migrants to leave, Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat whose district borders Mexico, told NBC Wednesday that the U.S. “also needs to address the pull factors.”
According to the latest Customs and Border Protection data, 180,034 people were apprehended crossing into the U.S. illegally in May, the highest number in two decades.
The White House’s political opponents have taken note.
Pointing to these numbers, Stephen Miller, a top aide and immigration policy adviser to former President Donald Trump, called the trip “uniquely disastrous” inwith Washington Secrets.
“You have a situation where literally every single month, as you are claiming to be trying [to close the border], this situation is destabilizing more and more and more,” Miller said.
Of the border, the Republican National Committee quipped that she had “skipped right over it.”
Allies said that despite the backlash, Harris was well suited to the role.
“She's somebody who, throughout her career, has taken on tough challenges and is able to step up even when facing detractors on different sides of the political aisle,” one Democratic strategist said. “The question I would ask is, ‘OK, go to the border to see what? To see what that she hasn't already seen?”
Kamala Harris to test 'longstanding partnership' in meeting on migration with Mexico's AMLO
On the final day of Harris' first foreign trip as vice president, she'll meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on migration at the southern border.Harris will meet with López Obrador — known by his initials as AMLO — and later with local female entrepreneurs and labor leaders as she looks to deepen diplomatic ties with Mexico as part of the administration's broader strategy to address underlying causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
He added: “She has one task, and that is to serve her boss, the president.”
Still, this person said, “It is quite a gift that the president gave her.”
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Harris tests migration waters with Latin America trip .
Vice President Harris will visit Guatemala and Mexico starting Sunday in the first foreign trip of her tenure, amid political unrest in Latin America that complicates her task of addressing the root causes of regional migration.The trip is meant to mark a reset in U.S. attitudes toward Latin America after four years of transactional, militarized migration enforcement under former President Trump.Rhetorically, Harris's expressed vision is aThe trip is meant to mark a reset in U.S. attitudes toward Latin America after four years of transactional, militarized migration enforcement under former President Trump.