Posts tagged with "Vice President Kamala Harris"

Biden names Harris to work with Central America on migration

March 26, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris would lead the Administration’s efforts to deter migration to the nation’ssouthwestern border by working to improve conditions in Central America—plunging her into one of the most politically fraught issues facing the White House, The New York Times reported.

The president said he had directed Harris to oversee the Administration’s plans to pump billions of dollars into the ravaged economies of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. She will work with the leaders of Central American governments to bolster the region’s economy in the hopes of reducing the violence and poverty that often have driven families in those countries to seek refuge in the United States.

“While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law,” Vice President Harris said before a White House meeting with top immigration officials. “We also—because we can chew gum and walk at the same time—must address the root causes that cause people to make the trek.”

The announcement underscores the sense of urgency at the border, where the administration has struggled to move thousands of young migrants from detention centers meant for adults into shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Republicans, who have seized on the images to make a case that President Biden’s immigration agenda is only attracting more people from the region, have vowed to put the issue at the center of their efforts to retake power in Congress next year.

The president, however, has continued to use a pandemic emergency rule to rapidly turn away most migrants at the border. The exception: Even though an appeals court allowed the United States to resume expelling minors. Biden has elected to welcome them into the country, where they must be kept in custody until they can be released to sponsors.

For the vice president, the diplomatic assignment is likely to be challenging. Previous efforts, including one led by Biden when he was vice president, were largely unsuccessful, as critics charged that corrupt leaders there had not effectively spent foreign aid money. In the years since, a majority of the families crossing the border have traveled from Central America,—eeking economic opportunity, safety from gangs and reunions with family members already in the United States.

The effort by Ms. Harris to address the root causes of migration, which can take years, is also unlikely to quickly produce the swift action demanded by Republicans and some Democrats to reduce the overcrowding at the border,the Times said. Representative Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas, released photographs this week showing dozens of young migrants lying on mats under foil blankets in crowded pods in a tent facility managed by the Border Patrol in Donna, Texas.

“The administration is struggling between the humane, softer approach as opposed to Trump and they have to calibrate and find that balance in enforcing the laws on the books and still projecting compassion,” Cuellar said after touring an overflow facility managed by the Department of Health and Human Services that was established to move children quickly from the border jails.

As of Monday, more than 4,800 children and teenagers were still stuck in detention cells intended to hold adults for short periods, including more than 3,300 held longer than the maximum 72 hours allowed under federal law, according to government documents obtained by The New York Times. On Tuesday, the number of minors in the border facilities increased to more than 4,960, according to data released on Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security. The largest number of minors held this way under the Trump administration was about 2,600 in June 2019, according to current and former Customs and Border Protection officials.

Harris acknowledged on Wednesday that “no question this is a challenging situation,” but said that she was looking forward to engaging in discussions with leaders of Central American countries.

For Vice President Harris, the diplomatic assignment is one of the first in a portfolio of responsibilities that aides said would expand in the months ahead..

The difficulty of the current task should not be underestimated.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden condemns ‘skyrocketing’ hate crimes against Asian Americans in wake of deadly shooting spree

March 23, 2021

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Atlanta on March 19 to personally condemn rising hate crimes against Asian Americans in the wake of the mass shooting in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, CNN reports.

Biden said hate crimes against Asian Americans have been “skyrocketing” since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago and that the country cannot be silent in the face of the hate and violence.

“Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act,” Biden said, speaking from Emory University in Atlanta.

He said Asian Americans have been “attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.”

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Asian American leaders in the wake of the deadly shooting. They had originally planned to travel to Atlanta to tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package that Biden recently signed into law—but the White House scrapped plans for a rally after the shooting.

“The conversation we had today with the (Asian American and Pacific Islander) leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. It’s often met with silence,” Biden said. “That’s been true throughout our history, but that has to change because our silence is complicity.”

According to CNN, Biden urged Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which he has said would:

  • Expedite the federal government’s response to hate crimes that have risen during the pandemic;
  • Support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting; and
  • Make information on hate crimes more accessible to Asian American communities.

Biden and Harris did not explicitly state that they considered the shootings earlier this week a hate crime. But they noted that whatever the motivation of the shooter, the killings come amid rising hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States.

“Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been —sexism too,” said Harris, who is America’s first Black and South Asian vice president.

The vice president said: “For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans—people with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate. Ultimately this is about who we are as a nation. This is about how we treat people with dignity and respect.”

Stephanie Cho, the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said former President Donald Trump’s name came up repeatedly during Biden’s hourlong meeting with the group.

Biden acknowledged Trump’s contributions to a rise in hate against Asian Americans, Cho told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny.

As for what Cho hopes to see from the administration, she said: “I’d like to see it be beyond this moment. And that as much as the former president called it the ‘China virus’ and scapegoated Asian Americans and really fueled this racism around Asian Americans, I would like to see the Biden administration come out just as strongly but in support of Asian Americans.”

Biden said he would work as “much as possible” to roll back that rhetoric.

Research contact: @CNN

President Joe Biden’s plea for the soul of America: ‘End this uncivil war’

January 20, 2021

Speaking from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol after a violent insurrection there claimed five lives on January 6, President Joe Biden’s first words as president offered Americans strong and direct reassurance that the most fundamental component of the nation’s government would remain intact, The Daily Beast reports.

“This is democracy’s day,” he said, minutes after being sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as the 46th president of the United States. “A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.”

“The people,” he continued, “the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

Biden, 78, addressed two threats that have worsened under President Donald Trump’s administration, the unchecked coronavirus pandemic and the growing presence of terrorism at home—which only two weeks ago arrived at the very platform from which Biden spoke. Standing resolutely, his jacket pinned with a small American flag on a chilly Wednesday afternoon, the president championed the “restless, bold, optimistic” collective pursuit of restoring what has been lost.

In an acknowledgement of the still bitterly divided national political climate—which is expected to continue long after Biden’s first few days in office—he called on citizens to help de-escalate the rampant partisanship, the Globe said.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes.”

Throughout his 20-minute address, Biden strove to provide a positive outlook for the nation’s future, seeking to remind viewers that, despite strife, sadness, and anger, his administration will offer a unified approach. He pledged to pen a new chapter in the “American story.”

A significant part of that book includes an historic start. “Today we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change,” Biden said, beaming with pride for his number 2, who was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“My whole soul is in it,” Biden said. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause,” he continued, to applause, listing off the “foes” he plans to combat: “Anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness.”

“America is once again the leading force for good in the world,” he said.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe