Staffers to Vice President Kamala Harris reportedly panicked after President Joe Biden placed her in charge of the administration’s response to the immigration crisis.
The staffers were concerned with political blowback associated with the assignment, CNN reported Tuesday. Harris has not visited the United States’ southern border, nor has she held a press conference since Biden placed her in charge. She is, however, scheduled to meet with the presidents of Mexico and Guatemala to address the “root causes” of migration to the United States.
Harris’ aides were particularly worried that her job would be characterized as a border assignment, according to CNN. They reportedly want it to be viewed solely through the lens of foreign policy.
When Biden announced Harris’ new role, he described it as “lead[ing] our diplomatic effort and work[ing] with those nations to accept returnees, and enhanc[ing] migration enforcement at their borders.”
Biden also said that the United States has “to deal with the problem here at home, but also to deal with it now in terms of in-country.”
An average of 6,000 illegal immigrants attempted to cross into the United States each day in April 2021, the most in 20 years. The same month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported fewer than 3,000 illegal immigrants for the first time since the agency began keeping records.
The Biden administration is holding thousands of unaccompanied minors in facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. “The Biden administration is feverishly putting up these pop-up detention facilities, many of which have no experience working with children,” child psychiatrist Amy Cohen told the Associated Press.
Many Republicans have criticized the Biden administration’s immigration policy. Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy claimed Biden’s proposals “reward lawbreakers by prioritizing millions of illegal residents,” in a January op-ed.