US President Joe Biden has selected Harris to serve as the point person in leading the administration's efforts to effectively handle the growing crisis at the US-Mexico border, it was revealed Wednesday.
In spearheading the move, Harris will be working to form a partnership with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, which include El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, in a bid to address the root causes for the sudden spike in illegal border crossings.
According to the Associated Press, the decision was made during a meeting between Biden, Harris, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandra Mayorkas and other immigration advisers.
A senior administration official explained to The Hill that the two-track effort is being coordinated so that the Northern Triangle countries are aware that "there is one single figure dedicated" to the White House initiative.
“She’ll work first on the goal of stemming the flow of irregular migrants to the US… but at the same time, the real goal is to establish a strategic partnership with these countries based on respect and shared values,” the official said.
The unidentified individual further noted that longer term goal of addressing the root causes will be dealt by the administration working to tackle corruption, strengthening border security and overseeing diplomatic efforts in those specified counties, among other measures.
“It will take time,” the senior administration official added. “The vice president gets that, and the president gets that.”
The new leadership role will represent the first notable item in Harris' portfolio as vice president, and draws comparison to efforts taken on by Biden during the Obama administration. As vice president, Biden took on the US effort to decrease the number of American troops stationed in Iraq.
In remarks to the press, Harris acknowledged the "work will not be easy," but that "it is important work."
Harris' appointment was announced as the White House hopes to relay to the American public that the administration intends to take the matter seriously, especially as the sharp surge in illegal border crossings has skyrocketed since January.
Earlier, Mayorkas issued a statement that the situation unfolding at the US' southern border would put the Land of the Free "on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years."
Although the Biden administration has been turning away many individuals seeking refuge in the US, it has been granting entry to vast numbers of unaccompanied children that are arriving at checkpoints, a move that has prompted the overcrowding of various holding facilities.
Preliminary figures obtained by CNN indicate that US Border Patrol officials have detained more than 11,000 unaccompanied children between February 28 to March 20, a massive increase from the 5,600 children the agency apprehended in January.
In a bid to urge migrants against making the trip to the border, Biden issued a strong warning earlier this month, telling individuals "don't come over."
Neither Biden nor Harris have made a trip to the southern border since the crisis emerged. However, they have indicated they plan to visit at "some point."