”I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” Biden said after making the announcement at the White House.
Biden shifted the responsibility for the crisis to his vice president as it threatens to overshadow his achievements in fighting the coronavirus and his massive $1.9 trillion spending package. He delegated full power to her team.
“When she speaks, she speaks for me,” Biden said. “Doesn’t have to check with me. She knows what she’s doing and I hope we can move this along.”
Biden acknowledged he had given Harris a “tough job” but noted she was “smiling” as he turned the event over to her.
“Thank you, Mr. President, and for having the confidence in me,” Harris said. “There’s no question this is a challenging situation.”
Harris said she would focus on addressing the “root causes” of the migration crisis with Central American countries and support “shared prosperity in the region.”
“While we are clear that people should not come to the border now, we also understand that we will enforce the law and that we also — because we can chew gum and walk at the same time,” she said.
The Biden administration has struggled with the crisis, as the number of families with children and unattended minors coming to the southern border has skyrocketed since Inauguration Day.
Harris said she would also work with members of Congress to address the problem.
“Needless to say the work will not be easy but it is important work,” Harris said.
Biden and his Department of Homeland Security officials have struggled with mixed messaging on the issue, assuring Americas that the border is closed, but repeating that children and unaccompanied minors detained at the border will be released into the United States.
Biden blamed former President Donald Trump for the surge in migrants that began after Trump left.
“This new surge we’re dealing with now started with the last administration, but it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to stop what’s happening,” he said.