Harris says effects of Biden migration policy won't be seen ‘overnight,’ as border crisis rages

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The Five’ reacts to Kamala Harris’ ‘word salad’ interview

‘The Five’ weighs in on criticism the vice president has received over her ‘word salad’ interview

Vice President Kamala Harris, in an interview this week, reiterated that the effects of the Biden administration’s policy on migration won’t be seen “overnight” – even as the crisis at the southern border rages into its second year.

Harris, who was tasked last year with leading the Biden administration’s diplomatic outreach to combat the migrant crisis, spoke to Telemundo about the administration’s strategy — which focuses on tackling “root causes” like poverty and corruption in Central America.

“I believe very strongly most people don’t want to leave home,” Harris said. “They don’t want to leave the place where they grew up, the church where they worship. They don’t want to leave their grandmother. And when people leave home, it’s usually for one of two reasons: either they are fleeing harm, or they cannot simply stay and take care of the basic needs of themselves and their families. So I am approaching our root causes work with that spirit.”

So far, however, there has been little slowdown of the numbers crashing into the southern border. There were approximately 1.7 million encounters in FY 2021, and 178,840 in December alone. While that is lower than the 212,000 seen at the height of the crisis, there are fears those numbers could increase again in 2022 in the spring and summer months.

Border officials have been overwhelmed, and furious at the Biden administration’s policies, while Republicans have pinned blame on the administration’s rollback of Trump-era border protections and reduced interior enforcement.

Meanwhile, there has been a growing number of migrants coming from countries outside of Mexico and the Northern Triangle – with increases in migrants coming from Venezuela, Nicaragua and elsewhere. Meanwhile, agents have also encountered migrants from more than 80 countries – including Syria, Russia, Uzbekistan and Eritrea.

Harris defended her track record on “root causes,” pointing to 77 CEOS who have pledged $1.2 billion to invest in agriculture and women entrepreneurs in the region. She also said she was “very clear” with leaders in the region “that one of our highest priorities is to combat corruption.”

“If there is going to be American investment, this is a factor of either something that discourages investment or will encourage investment — meaning combating corruption,” she said.

However, Harris tamped down any expectations that her work would lead to significant results at the border any time soon.

“But none of this is going to be just turning on a switch. It requires focus, it requires intention, it requires an investment over a period of time, which means, in the short point, is that you’re not going to see the benefit of it overnight – because the problems didn’t occur overnight,” she said.

However, she did then say that there are already “seeing success” and that, with the help of Microsoft, they have expanded “the ability of people in the region to have access to high-speed internet.” 

“So we are seeing progress,” she claimed.

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