Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday that “extreme climate incidents” such as hurricanes destroy crops in Central America and prompt more people to migrate illegally to the U.S.
In a Democrats-only virtual meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Ms. Harris said climate change has hit Central America particularly hard.
She mentioned two recent hurricanes and a drought in Guatemala.
“What that means to the economic base of this region, particularly because a large part of their economic strength has been in their agricultural industry … [has] been directly impacted by the extreme weather,” Ms. Harris said. “So this is some of the work that we can do together, and to address what I call … the root causes of the migration.”
The vice president, who is in charge of the administration’s diplomatic effort to control illegal migration, will visit Mexico and Guatemala on June 7-8, her first trip abroad. She has yet to visit the U.S. southern border, prompting criticism from Republicans.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked President Biden in a letter last week to fire Ms. Harris as the administration’s “border czar,” saying she isn’t willing “to see the crisis first-hand.”
“Vice President Harris has shown little interest in observing what is happening along the border and has failed to articulate any plan to deal with the devastating effects of this crisis,” Mr. Brnovich told the president.
In the White House meeting with Hispanic lawmakers, Ms. Harris said many of the factors leading to a surge in migration are “long-standing.”
She mentioned poverty, food shortages, violence, and domestic violence against women and girls.
Ms. Harris said CEOs across the country are working with the administration to develop more support for the so-called “northern triangle” region of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The Department of Health and Human Services has diverted more than $2 billion intended for other health initiatives toward covering the cost of caring for about 20,000 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children, Politico has reported.
The redirected money includes $850 million that Congress designated for the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile, the emergency medical reserve depleted by the COVID-19 response. The administration is taking another $850 million from a pot intended to expand coronavirus testing.