Vice President Kamala Harris described a “lack of climate resilience” as one of the “root causes” of migration from Central America to the U.S., in a speech to the Washington Conference on the Americas on Tuesday.
“We are focused on addressing both the acute factors and the root causes of migration,” Harris said. Harris noted the “acute factors” as hurricanes, the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing drought and “food insecurity” in Central America.
“And then there are the longstanding issues: the root causes” Harris said. “And I’m thinking of corruption, violence, and poverty; the lack of economic opportunity; the lack of climate adaptation and resilience; the lack of good governance.”
VP Harris claims "the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience” are “root causes” driving the surge at the southern border pic.twitter.com/7hYYRsnI3t
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 4, 2021
Harris’s comments come as the Biden administration attempts to handle a surge of illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has projected that the number of migrants encountered at the border in April would roughly equal that of March, when border agents detained 172,331 migrants, the Washington Post reported.
About 122,000 migrants were detained in the first three weeks of April, according to preliminary data obtained by CNN. While the number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S. dropped slightly in April, the Department of Health and Human Services currently holds over 22,500 migrant children and teens.
President Biden appointed Harris in March to lead an effort to stem the surge in illegal crossings, but the White House was forced to clarify that Harris’s role is diplomatic and deals with the “root causes” of migration from Central American nations, rather than focusing on enforcement at the border.
“Her focus is not on the border. It’s on addressing the root causes in the Northern Triangle,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week, referring to the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.