Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holds hands with President-elect Joe Biden and her husband Doug Emhoff as they celebrate Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holds hands with President-elect Joe Biden and her husband Doug Emhoff as they celebrate Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware
AFP

US President Joe Biden has entrusted his Vice President Kamala Harris with the task of leading the diplomatic effort and working with neighbouring Mexico and Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to stem the flow of immigrants to the southern border.

Biden said nobody is better qualified than Harris, who ran the second-largest attorney general's office in America, for this.

"This new surge (of migrants) we are dealing with now started with the last administration but it is our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to stop (it from) happening and so this increase has been consequential," Biden told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

"The vice president has agreed... to lead our diplomatic effort and work with those nations to accept the returnees and enhance migration enforcement at their borders and we are already talking with Mexico about that," he said.

In an interaction with reporters before his meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on this issue, Biden said his administration is going to be dealing with a full team.

"I (can) think of nobody who is better qualified to do this than... this is a woman who ran the second-largest attorney general's office in America after the United States attorney general in the State of California," he said about Harris.

In her remarks, Harris said there are many factors that lead residents to leave these countries.

"While we are clear that people should not come to the border now. We also understand that we will enforce the law...," she said.

Harris stressed addressing "the root causes that cause people to make the trek, as the president has described, to come here".

"I look forward to engaging in diplomacy with government, with the private sector, with civil society and the leaders of each in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to strengthen democracy and the rule of law and ensure shared prosperity in the region. We will collaborate with Mexico and other countries throughout the Western Hemisphere and as part of this effort, we expect that we will have collaborative relationships to accomplish the goals the president has and that we share," she said.

According to the White House, the vice president's leadership on this issue will focus both on the goal of stemming the flow of irregular migrants to the United States and on the establishment of a longer-term strategic partnership with these countries based on respect and shared values.

"We need to deal with what's happening in the Northern Triangle and address it in a way that is about not only diplomacy, but bringing our allies together," Harris said.

The vice president will oversee diplomatic efforts and work with these nations to accept returnees and enhance migration enforcement on their borders, implement the strategy to address the root causes of migration and work to create economic prosperity, fight corruption, improve good governance and strengthen the rule of law.

In addition, Harris will work closely with various Cabinet members, including the Secretary of State and the Administrator for International Development, as well as the Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle.

She will also engage with civil society, international organisations and governments in the region to build, strengthen, and expand Central and North American countries' asylum systems and resettlement capacity and increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to apply for protection closer to home.

Meanwhile, the Department of Defence approved a request for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children at a vacant dormitory at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, Texas and an area of land on Fort Bliss, Texas to construct a suitable temporary housing facility.

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