Kamala Harris’ Root Causes Tour in Central America

Newspaper editorial report: The vice-president takes the border further south. Image: Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images

Video transcript


KAMALA HARRIS: We want to be clear with the folks in this area who are considering taking this dangerous trip to the US-Mexico border, don’t come. Don’t come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border.

Vice President Kamala Harris this week told those traveling from Central America to the United States not to make the trip, the Vice President concluded her first overseas trip to Guatemala and Mexico on Wednesday and has sparked criticism from both sides of the political aisle, with fellow Democrats exploding his message to migrants. We’re back with Dan Henninger and Kim Strassel. Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady also joins the panel.

Marie, good to see you. The administration, Mary, continues with this fantasy that we have a closed border as we have video after video showing it wide open, of immigrants crossing the Rio Grande on foot. Will the vice-president’s trip to Mexico and Guatemala do anything to close the border?

MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY: Well, I don’t think Kamala Harris has accomplished much from what she has announced. She said they would give more money to community groups and NGOs and ask the justice ministry to help Guatemala investigate corruption. And on the first topic, which is helping these groups, many of these groups are allied with the anti-development movement in Guatemala and Washington. And they are the ones who supported the – excuse me – they oppose the development of mining. They oppose hydroelectric dams. They essentially oppose private property rights and development.

So you know she can say whatever she wants about how good it is that we give money to these bands. But if the groups are anti-development groups, it’s not going to reach what she calls the root causes of migration. It’s a big problem.

Yes. We have heard this expression, “root cause”, time and time again. But Dan, there’s a tortured logic here with the administration’s plans, which is, on the one hand, they say immigrants are coming in because of all the corruption in government. But at the same time, the remedy is to give more money to those governments which they claim to be so corrupt. That doesn’t quite match, does it?

DAN HENNINGER: Not at all. You know, David, take that as a rule of thumb. Whenever politicians say they’re going to solve problems by tackling the root causes, it means they have no plan, no idea at all.

The root cause is something that you hide behind. And the idea that you’re going to send millions and millions of dollars to governments like El Salvador, I think, probably sounds like complete nonsense to most Americans. Their immigration and border policy essentially consisted of reversing Donald Trump’s policies.

Whatever one thinks of Trump’s policies, it loosens the border. Joe Biden himself said in 2019 that he would like to see a wave of asylum seekers at the border. He has it now.

And what we know about immigration policy is that there are … immigration laws are being broken. And so whether it’s Kamala Harris or Joe Biden or Jen Psaki, they are faced with trying to defend the indefensible.

There is no solution at hand. And they’re just going to have to face the reality of these people crossing the border. And as long as they don’t have any policies, it’s going to annoy the Biden administration for months and months.

And Kim, then you have the Kamala Harris problem not going to the border. And he was actually asked that question. I don’t think she thought she would be asked questions. She certainly didn’t have a prepared answer to that – from NBC’s Lester Holt. Just let me play the quick note and get your reaction. Roll of duct tape.

KAMALA HARRIS: We went to the border.

LESTER HOLT: You did not go to the border.

KAMALA HARRIS: And I did not go to Europe. And–


–I mean, I don’t understand the point you’re making.

I do not understand the point you are making? The point is very simple. You did not go to the border. This is where the crisis lies.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: How could you not think that this wasn’t going to be the number one question he was asked? This is the biggest problem there. And the fact that she didn’t get an answer is truly amazing. But I think that explains why she gets such terrible reviews on this trip all around.

Look, you’ve had the AOC and the people on the list criticizing her for her “don’t come” comment. You’ve had Republicans suing her for that border non-response. You even had the White House and a number of unnamed officials quoted as saying how disappointed they were with his trip and, in general, how it went.

And you have to be wondering – the White House is worried right now because that’s only part of its portfolio. The White House has given him all kinds of duties to do, talking about vaccine fairness, speaking out and pushing forward the new infrastructure and family plans bill – most recently, labor issues. And if that’s how she’s going to get up and play, they’ve got a problem in their hands.

Yes. And then, Mary, you have the problem of these Latin leaders not necessarily agreeing with Kamala Harris on how to move forward in this area. The Guatemalan president was in fact publicly at odds with Biden’s immigration policies, particularly in returning the children to their countries of origin. It’s a little hard to put this disagreement under the rug, isn’t it?

MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY: Well, the Guatemalans are very dependent on remittances. So they want their workers to be able to enter the United States. But I think one of the things Kamala Harris could have done constructively would be to talk about access to legal visas in places like Guatemala.

You know, there is a great demand for labor in this country. And if you let people know that the way to get a visa is to go to the consulate or embassy and apply legally and it will be processed in a timely manner, but that if you go to the border , you’re never going in, that’s the message she should send. Embassies in Central America are not doing their job.

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