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Vice President Kamala Harris was tasked by President Biden with leading the administration’s efforts to combat “root causes” of the crisis at the southern border more than a year ago. But now, with massive numbers again amassing at the border, the matter is barely appearing on her schedule.
Harris was assigned by Biden in March 2021 to lead diplomatic talks with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to tackle the “root causes” such as poverty, violence and climate change.
It proved a politically tricky assignment for Harris, who was quickly dubbed “the border czar” at a time when the border was undergoing a major crisis, with spiking migrant encounters that critics have blamed on the administration’s liberal immigration policies. The administration has instead said that a combination of “root causes” and the shutting of legal asylum pathways by the Trump administration is to blame.
Harris soon took off on a trip to Guatemala and Mexico, where she touted U.S. investments in agribusiness, affordable housing, worker protections and women’s empowerment and education, while also calling for anti-corruption efforts from those countries. However, issues like Mexico’s refusal to take back migrant families were not discussed.
She immediately faced pressure on why she hadn’t been to the U.S. border (to which she quipped that she also hadn’t been to Europe) A border visit to the relatively quiet sector of El Paso soon followed in the last days of June. She had also announced a “Call to Action” for private sector investment in Central America, in which companies like Mastercard, Microsoft, Nespresso and the World Economic Forum – have made commitments to “support inclusive economic development” in the region.
At that border visit in June, she said the administration had made “extreme progress” in tackling the crisis.
But after that border visit in June, events related to the issue dried up — even as the border crisis continued to rage through the rest of the year. An L.A. Times tracker notes two limited press events that mention immigration in August, and nothing since.
In January, Harris traveled to Honduras to witness the inauguration of the new president, which included meetings with the new president, Xiomara Castro. Earlier in the month, she had spoken by telephone to Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammatei — who had previously told Fox News that he hadn’t heard from the VP since June.
In April, she had a phone call with Ray Chambers, Vice Chair of the Partnership for Central America and World Health Organization Global Ambassador which involved an “update” on the progress in “implementing development programs with private sector partners” and recommendations for additional investments. The White House says the “Call to Action” has generated more than $1.2 billion of investment in the region.
Then in May, she joined a meeting with White House officials and business leaders on investments, in which she and other attendees “agreed to continue to work to deepen” those investments.
Vice President Harris’ office did not respond to a Fox News Digital inquiry about any intention to visit the border or Central America, set up further meetings or any additional events.
Harris’ lack of movement related to the border and migration is particularly striking this week, given that First Lady Jill Biden is this week on a trip to Central America, stopping off at Panama, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Additionally, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced a massive 234,000+ migrant encounters in April alone. That number is expected to rise if the administration is allowed to end expulsions under the Title 42 public health order next week – with the Biden administration planning for up to 18,000 migrants a day.
“Joe Biden and Border Czar Kamala Harris have overseen the worst border crisis in DHS history and are actively making it worse by ending Title 42,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Nicole Morales told Fox News Digital.
“Despite the suffering and devastation they created, Biden and Harris don’t care enough to show up. Unfortunately for the American people, Kamala Harris only attends events that can boost her tragic poll numbers, and our communities are less safe as a result,” she said.
Harris’ has reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the role given to her. A book by Politico reporters reported earlier this year that “Harris was resigned to the assignment,”, adding that the vice president did not want to be referred to as “border czar” and “did not hesitate to chide Biden for characterizing her assignment in those terms.”
In one instance, Biden and Harris reportedly met with the Congressional Black Caucus and the president said Harris would do “a hell of a job” handling immigration. This led to Harris correcting Biden “at once,” noting that her assignment was the Northern Triangle, not immigration.
But despite the reports of Harris’ dissatisfaction with the role, she has publicly expressed her commitment to it.
“Most people don’t want to leave home. And when they do, it’s for one or two reasons. Either they can’t take care of the basic needs of themselves in their family or they’re fleeing harm,” she told CBS News in December. “And so my approach to the issue in Guatemala and its neighboring countries..is to do what we have, I think, a responsibility to do, as a member of the Western Hemisphere. To assist in dealing with the root causes of migration out of those countries.”
“And that is my primary focus,” she said.