Vice President Kamala Harris described a “lack of climate resilience” as one of the “root causes” of the illegal immigration crisis from Central America to the southern U.S. border, in a speech to the Washington Conference on the Americas on Tuesday — along with a list of other issues including violence and government corruption, reported Fox News.
“We are focused on addressing both the acute factors and the root causes of migration,” Harris said. Harris mentioned the “acute factors” as hurricanes, the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing drought and “food insecurity” occurring in Central America.
She continued, “and then there are the longstanding issues, the ‘root causes:’ I’m thinking of corruption, violence, and poverty; the lack of economic opportunity; the lack of climate adaptation and resilience; the lack of good governance.”
Harris, who has gone over 41 days without a press conference on the border since being given the task of leading the crisis, also considers weather and climate change a contributing "root cause" to the problem, reported Fox News.
"We are looking at extensive storm damage because of extreme climate, we're looking at drought in an area in a region where agriculture is one of the most traditionally important basis for their economy, we're looking at what's happening in terms of food scarcity as a result of that and in fact, incredible food insecurity, which we used to call hunger food insecurity," she said.
"And we are looking at, therefore, a number of issues that also relate to poverty, extreme poverty. And also, there's violence obviously coming out of those regions," she said. "When you look at the root causes, we're also looking at issues of corruption. Again, we're looking at the issue of climate resiliency and then the concern about a lack of economic opportunity," reported Fox News.
Harris’s comments come as the Biden administration tries to figure out what to do about the surge of illegal immigrants accosting the U.S.-Mexico border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection projects that April’s numbers of migrants encountered will match that of March, which saw 172,331 illegal immigrants detained, the Washington Post reported.
According to preliminary data obtained by CNN, about 122,000 migrants were detained in the first three weeks of April including over 22,500 migrant children and teens, which are currently being detained by the Department of Health and Human Services.
President Biden tasked Harris on March 24 to spearhead an effort to stem the surge in illegal crossings, but the White House was forced to clarify that Harris’s role is actually diplomatic and deals with the “root causes” of migration from Central American nations, rather than actually focusing on enforcement of law and order at the border, reported NBC News.
“Her focus is not on the border. It’s on addressing the root causes in the Northern Triangle, that’s why the majority of her time has been spent on working … on a diplomatic level.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week, referring to the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, reported the National Review.
Republicans blame Biden’s Executive Orders rolling back of Trump-era immigration policy, such as stopping construction of the border wall, for the surge in illegal immigration at the U.S. Southern border.
GOP Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Texas revealed that Border Patrol officials warned the Biden administration that if it rolled back Trump’s immigration policies, it would unleash a flood of migrants to the border.
“You’ve got customs and border folks who are at the end of their rope. They’re doing what they can but they’re also very frustrated, realizing that they had actually warned this administration what would happen if they decided to push back on policies that were put in place by the previous administration that were working,” Van Duyne of Texas said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.”
On Tuesday, Harris touted a $310 million investment the U.S. was making in Central America, part of a massive $4 billion investment the Biden administration has promised to make in the region to tackle the root causes. She also said she has spoken to world leaders, including of Canada, Finland, Ireland and Japan to try to get them to "help the Northern Triangle," reported Fox News.
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