June 9, 2021

Harris Visits Latin America

Vice President Kamala Harris sought to assure poor and threatened populations of Latin America on Tuesday that the United States has ‘the capacity to give people a sense of hope’ in the region so they can make better lives without fleeing to the U.S. border… Harris engaged in two days of diplomacy in Guatemala and Mexico as part of the Biden administration’s effort to stem the flow of people into the U.S.” AP News

On Tuesday, Axios reported that “The number of migrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year is already the most since 2006 — with four months left to go.” Axios

Here’s our most recent coverage of the border. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left calls for a focus on the root causes of migration, and worries that Harris is not being set up for success.

“Years of reporting by journalists and research by nongovernmental experts reveal the factors pushing people north: powerful gangs conscripting teenage boys, sexually abusing young women, extorting local businesses and committing astonishing levels of murder; corrupt governments unable or unwilling to take control; broken economies; and climate-change-driven droughts in agricultural regions that have made subsistence farming impossible…

“The daily crises that lead so many people to decide that the dangerous trek to the border is a safer alternative to staying put will not be easy to solve. This will take patience, bold policy visions, and the support of an American public that sees the human tragedies at hand.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“Prospective migrants tell us that they aren’t chasing an American dream. It’s a Guatemalan dream they’re after, but they need to go to the United States to attain it… Given the chance, farmers in communities nestled around picturesque Lake Atitlán would build ecotourist lodges that showcase Maya traditions and environmental stewardship. Agricultural workers living in the lush volcanic highlands of Huehuetenango are tired of just picking coffee; they aspire to roast, package and ship their beans directly to hipster cafes in Guatemala City, San Salvador and Los Angeles…

“Getting results in Guatemala requires investing in the economic and commercial scaffolding that the country’s entrepreneurial farmers desperately need, including access to land, fertilizer, water, roads, credit, technical assistance, broadband internet and the ability to sell their products directly to consumers… the United States needs to break a pattern in which foreign assistance is channeled through government contractors with too little transparency, too much overhead and scant connection to community priorities. We should seize the opportunity to work directly with local communities to fund sustainable development projects.”
Anita Isaacs and Jorge Morales Toj, New York Times

Critics note that “The current presidents of both Mexico and the U.S. came to office promising a safer world for migrants traversing this perilous landscape. So far, neither have delivered… April marked the deadliest month in Sonora in more than two decades. Just one day before the asylum-seekers marched [to protest Title 42], Mexican soldiers opened fire on suspected cartel members in Nogales in broad daylight…

“Two weeks before that, narco gunmen shot up a government helicopter with a .50 caliber sniper rifle near the municipality of Santa Ana. The following day saw reports of some 60 cartel fighters ambushing the Mexican military near the community of Cerro Cañedo; eight people were killed, including a Mexican soldier… the bottleneck caused by the Title 42 rule has fueled a rise in violence and extortion of migrants [in Mexico].”
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept

Regarding the VP’s portfolio, “Harris will likely become the public face of a doomed effort to enact major voting-rights legislation that cannot be enacted without the filibuster reform Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (with a few other Senate Democrats probably quietly abetting them) have made impossible. And even if conditions on the border improve (which is a development hardly within the full control of the U.S. government), Harris will be identified with an exceptionally fraught issue that divides Democrats and energizes Republicans…

“Thus, through no fault of her own, she may suffer in public perceptions, particularly as Republicans focus their fire on her as a riper target (and as an obviously easier object for racist and sexist contempt) than the hard-to-demonize Uncle Joe.”
Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

“Fox News harangues [Harris] daily, in articles on its website and in tweets… She confronts the confines in which a vice president has to operate on top of the similar confines in which Black people and women in positions of power are often expected to operate. It’s a Goldilocks double or even triple whammy. Too strong a voice and you’re stepping outside of your place. Too soft a voice and you’re timidly failing to rise to the occasion…

“How sensitive to that is Biden, and how supportive? I don’t detect any carry-over of the tension between him and Harris in the Democratic presidential primary, but it’s important to remember that Biden’s model for the relationship between a vice president and a president is his with Barack Obama, and Obama didn’t nurture Biden’s political ambitions or set him up for a promotion. He did that for Hillary Clinton instead. This is one fraught, fascinating vice presidency.”
Frank Bruni, New York Times

From the Right

The right is critical of Harris and the administration’s approach to the border, arguing that more enforcement is necessary.

The right is critical of Harris and the administration’s approach to the border, arguing that more enforcement is necessary.

“Biden, Harris, and the immigration- and foreign-policy team around them operated in denial on this issue throughout 2020 and into 2021, and it’s still not clear that they’re completely in touch with reality. When Candidate Biden and Candidate Harris promised to cease all border-wall construction, immediately end family separation, suspend all deportations for 100 days, ‘end prolonged detention,’ ‘end workplace raids,’ and create a path to citizenship for everyone currently living in the U.S. illegally, Central American migrants and the coyotes interpreted that as ‘The border is open.’…

“It doesn’t matter if they never spoke those specific words; this was the conclusion that the migrants came to because Biden and Harris never wanted to talk about enforcing immigration laws on the campaign trail. In 2019, then-candidate Harris declared her intent to use executive orders to end deportations and create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. How angry can you be at Central American migrants for believing Harris meant what she said?”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“When Biden announced he was appointing the veep as his immigration czar, he was effectively passing her a grenade whose pin he had already pulled. When Harris went to Guatemala, that country’s president flat-out blamed Biden’s policies for the surge north. He said the United States’ ‘message changed to, ‘We are going to reunite families and we are going to reunite children’ … The very next day the coyotes here were organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.’…

“‘Do not come,’ Harris said in Guatemala… ‘We will discourage illegal migration. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border. … If you come to our border, you will be turned back.’ That’s not what Central Americans are hearing from their friends who are now comfortably ensconced in the US. Nearly half of those who show up at the border seeking asylum are being welcomed into the States, given orders to appear in court, and then set free…

“Harris can’t clean up the mess at the border unless her boss decides to clean up his policy mess — by reinstating some of Trump’s ideas.”
Kyle Smith, New York Post

“Harris has repeatedly claimed that she is addressing the ‘root causes’ of the migrant crisis, or, in other words, the pull-factors that might drive people to migrate in the first place. The first problem with this approach is that we have been throwing billions of dollars to Central America for decades and haven’t seen a noticeable decline in crime and corruption, or an increase in economic security. The plan to nation-build our way out of a surge in illegal immigration calls to mind failed neoconservative projects to prevent terror by ‘spreading democracy’ throughout the Middle East…

“Second, even if such investment-driven solutions were effective, it would take years and years to see tangible returns. Meanwhile, migrants who falsely claim refugee status or political asylum (relatively narrowly defined categories) when their real motivation is a ‘better life’ will continue to flood the border…

“If Harris really had an interest in putting a stop to the migrant surge as soon as possible, she would visit the border and talk directly to these migrants, as well as local law enforcement and border patrol to ascertain what support they need to provide much-needed security for Americans living in border towns.”
Amber Athey, Spectator World

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) writes, “There are solutions available to rid our nation of this border crisis. For starters, we must resume the border barrier system, which includes technology and wall construction, to reclaim our national security. We encountered a border wall gate in need of desperate repair during my visit but were told it couldn’t be fixed because of the current administration. Instead, a border patrol agent must be pulled away from other important duties to post guard to cover up the vulnerability. These ridiculous and grossly inefficient Band-Aids should be replaced with a strong wall system that works…

“Second, America must re-institute its ‘remain in Mexico’ policy. By having illegal immigrants remain outside of the U.S. while awaiting their asylum review, we not only save taxpayer money, but we respect the immigrants who are trying to enter our nation by dutifully following our laws and the standard process. That is the system that is fair for everyone. And third, America must work with its Central American partners to secure immigration agreements, much like the Trump administration accomplished. Only then, through a coordinated effort, can we reach stability at our border.”
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Washington Examiner

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