The Rio Grande is a long and torrential river, from El Paso in Texas the river separates the USA and Mexico over 2000 kilometers to the Gulf of Mexico.
For many people from South and Central America, the crossing is a spark of hope. It was the death sentence for a nine-year-old: the escaped girl drowned near Eagle Pass, Texas.
According to US authorities, it was the first death of a child in the latest wave of migration. The tragedy highlights the growing crisis on the border.
More migrants than now came last in spring 2019. And never before have so many unaccompanied minors – in February it was 61 percent more than in January, according to the border authorities. Children and adolescents traveling alone are the only ones the US government even allows across the border; adults and families have to wait in Mexico for their asylum applications to be processed.
Harris: “It won’t be easy work”
According to the US media, there are currently more than 15,000 children in border detention – around a third of them longer than the permitted 72 hours. First pictures from makeshift mass camps in Donna, Texas show overcrowded tents. The minors crouch on thin mattresses under foil covers. That was “no place for a child”, admitted Biden’s Home Minister Alejandro Mayorkas (61).
Kamala Harris is now supposed to solve the problem – and in the long term. “The President has asked me to lead our diplomatic work with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” said the Vice President on Wednesday.
Harris wants to address the root causes of migration and improve relations with the refugees’ home countries. She is also supposed to oversee the US government’s plan to invest $ 4 billion in the economies of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. “It will not be easy work – but it is necessary.”
Corona has exacerbated the refugee crisis
So combating the causes. Ironically, the first top job for the Vice President is a Herculean task. For decades, the number of migrants at the border has been increasing every two or three years. Donald Trump (74) has used deterrents for the past four years, separating families at the border and keeping children in cages. This has not reduced the number of people seeking protection.
But the new US administration is still struggling with the consequences two months after taking office. The deterrent policy has ended and the asylum law, which was temporarily suspended during the Corona crisis, is back in force. But the infrastructure on the border is down after the Trump era. And this at a time when there are more push factors than ever before which move people from Latin America to break new ground: violence, poverty, gang crime, hurricanes – and corona.
“The pandemic made things even worse. After a year of Corona, the difficulties and challenges in their home countries are life-threatening for many people, ”says Marcela Salazar Posada from Terre des hommes in Bogotá (Colombia) to SonntagsBlick.
Harris wants to fight the causes of the escape
There is no improvement in sight. While the US is about to swim in vaccines, distribution in developing countries is sluggish – which is also likely to delay the economic recovery. In addition, the corona crisis has strengthened authoritarian tendencies in Latin American countries.
Kamala Harris now has to a) whip the border management into shape and b) reduce the push factors.
There are good reasons that Biden leaves the border crisis to his deputy. Although they will have to defend their slim congressional majority in the mid-term elections in a year and a half and need quick wins, this time the Democrats want to approach the problem more holistically.
The problem will probably remain with her
How politically charged the topic is can also be seen from the fact that democratic and republican politicians are currently practically handing each other on the border.
Kamala Harris does not shy away from the challenge of addressing causes rather than symptoms. Her credibility is high on the left wing – she repeatedly attacked Donald Trump harshly for his refugee policy.
And last but not least, the problem will remain with her. Biden had claimed at his first press conference on Thursday that he wanted to stand for re-election – but that is unlikely in view of his age. Kamala Harris is expected to run in the 2024 presidential election.
Harris plans to travel to the border this week. It could be the first visit of many.
Published: 03/28/2021, 9:41 a.m.
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