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Harris To Lead Biden Administration's Mexico And Central America Diplomatic Push

Vice President Harris delivers brief remarks during a meeting Wednesday.
Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
Vice President Harris delivers brief remarks during a meeting Wednesday.

Vice President Harris will lead the administration's diplomatic push to work with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to address the root causes of migration, President Biden told reporters on Wednesday.

It's the first major foreign policy portfolio to be assigned to Harris, and it comes as the White House grapples with a growing number of migrants at the southern border, including thousands of minors arriving without adult family members. Harris will work with countries to enhance immigration enforcement on their borders, Biden said.

"This new surge we're dealing with now started in the last administration but it's our responsibility to deal with it humanely," Biden said.

Harris said that there was "no question that this is a challenging situation" and reiterated the administration's call that no additional migrants come to the border.

In the Obama White House, Biden played a similar role on the issue, working with Northern Triangle countries on issues like violence, corruption and economic issues. Biden told reporters that Harris, who was a prosecutor and California's attorney general before being elected to the U.S. Senate, was the most qualified person to lead the effort.

Biden has asked Congress for $4 billion in aid over four years for Northern Triangle countries – aid that primarily will go to communities and international organizations rather than governments because of concerns about corruption.

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Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.