- President Joe Biden will tap Vice President Kamala Harris to run point on immigration.
- Harris will lead negotiations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
- The VP’s role in tackling the southern border surge was confirmed by a senior White House official.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Vice President Kamala Harris will take the lead for the Biden administration on the surge of unaccompanied minors and other immigrants seeking asylum along the US-Mexico border, a senior White House official told Insider on Wednesday.
“Biden has said over and over again, ‘The person that I trust most, the person I turn to when there’s a hard issue is Kamala Harris,'” the official said.
Harris is going to take point on negotiations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the official said.
More than 11,000 unaccompanied children were in US custody as of March 20, according to US Border Patrol.
As Insider’s Robin Bravender and Tina Sfondeles reported in January, Harris has been looking to build her policy portfolio and find key issues in which she can specialize.
The border crisis has emerged as one of the first major events the Biden White House has faced since he took office on Jan. 20.
Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has blamed the Trump administration for dismantling the nation’s asylum and legal immigration infrastructure to such an extent that the flood of children and teens are arriving as the Biden administration rebuilds that infrastructure on the fly.
Harris’s experience as California’s attorney general and senator make her a logical fit to head up those efforts, the senior official said.
“The vice president has significant experience on fighting organized crime and upholding human rights as an attorney general in California and a senator from California, which she will bring to bear and she leads this effort,” the official said.
When speaking to reporters gathered in the State Dining Room on Wednesday afternoon, Biden said “This new surge we are dealing with now started in the past administration, but it is our responsibility” to handle it now, according to the White House press pool report.
“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” Biden said of Harris.