At least now we know why Kamala Harris wasn’t picked to be Secretary of State:
Her diplomacy stinks.
The vice president’s trip to Guatemala and Mexico was supposed to help get at what she says are the “root causes” of the current crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, it may have made matters worse.
First, this root-causes business is horse crap. The spinners within the Biden administration concocted that line to skirt the embarrassing fact that Harris is tasked with solving the border crisis but can’t find her way to the border, and that, despite this administration’s rhetoric, not all problems south of the border have their roots in the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration. To study the root causes of immigration and asylum, just visit the parking lot of a big box store, any restaurant kitchen in America, or almost any U.S. household.
President George W. Bush was right: Immigrants from Mexico come here to do jobs that Americans won’t do. And refugees from Central America come here to escape violence, with a plan to reunite with family members who are already in the United States—doing jobs that Americans won’t do.
It’s no mystery what got us here. It’s the U.S. employers, stupid.
With hundreds of thousands of would-be Central American refugees trying to enter the United States in search of asylum, the migration crisis is a headache for Democrats. They don’t have answers. All they have are competing factions: Latinos who want to make it easier for immigrants and refugees from Mexico and Central America to come north, and white working-class union members in the Rust Belt states who want to make it tougher.
In both political and humanitarian terms, the immigration crisis was already a hot mess. Now, thanks to Harris and her clumsy way of communicating, it’s hotter and messier.
And, as a bonus, Democrats now have a new problem on their hands: A lot of Latinos are pissed off—at Harris and Democrats.
To think, this hurricane was created by three little words uttered by Harris at a press conference in Guatemala City: “Do not come.”
That was the vice president’s harsh message to desperate Guatemalans—and, by extension, Hondurans and Salvadorans—who are thinking of giving up everything they own, leaving their families, and walking more than 1,000 miles to the U.S.-Mexico border to try their luck in the nation of second chances.
“I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border,” she said while addressing reporters along with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. “Do not come. Do not come.”
Let’s be clear about why people in Central America would come to the United States in the first place. They’d be coming because their house is on fire and their countries are imploding—in large measure, it should be said, due to decades of U.S. imperialism and failed U.S.-imposed economic systems that widened the gap between rich and poor. They’d be coming because they have a credible fear of vicious street gangs that were created in the United States and deported back to Central America, where they run the show and rape and kill with impunity.
And they’d be coming to roll the dice and seek asylum from a U.S. immigration system that, on average, awards that golden ticket to only about one in four people who ask for it. Most of all, these people would come because they put trust in the promise from the grand lady in New York Harbor who vows to take in “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
“Biden administration says it will take on the challenge of nation building in Central America, but it won’t take in any more Central Americans? What a joke.”
Frankly, that is where this Mexican-American gets pissed off. I shouldn’t have to explain all this to Kamala Harris, of all people. I shouldn’t have to make the case for inclusion and tolerance to the first Black vice president of the United States, or explain why America needs immigrants and refugees to a politician who was packaged and sold to the American people as “the daughter of immigrants.”
My mother was born in Texas, and my father was born in California; Harris’ mother was born in India, and her father was born in Jamaica. And I have a better handle on this stuff than she does?
Let’s also take note that, besides wielding the stick of harsh rhetoric, Harris went to Guatemala to promote the carrot of the Biden Administration’s $4 billion aid package for the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The idea is to throw a bunch of money at the region, much of which will go to bolster the military and police that—far from keeping people safe—often help drive people out.
In the spirit of the Las Vegas tourism department, the administration hopes that, with a sizable enough investment, we can get to the point where what happens in Central America will stay in Central America. So the Biden administration wants to save the region, but it has no interest in saving the people who live in the region? It’ll take on the challenge of nation building in Central America, but it won’t take in any more Central Americans? What a joke.
After telling the people of Central America not to come to the United States, Harris followed up with this:
“We will discourage illegal migration,” she said. “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border… If you come to our border, I believe you will be turned back.”
Slow your roll, Madame Vice President. Who said anything about “illegal.” Or didn’t they teach you in law school that the process of seeking refugee status in the United States is 100 percent legal? And people should not be immediately turned back, at least not until they’ve had a hearing on their claim for asylum?
Harris tends to lose patience and get snide when she feels pressured or criticized for something she did—or should have done.
Like, for instance, going out of her way over the last few months to avoid visiting the U.S.-Mexico border.
The vice president knows how to seize on issues that she believes will help her politically, like supporting police reform and LGBTQ rights, while also staying the hell away from challenges that could complicate her political future. At the top of that list sits immigration and the current border crisis. So how unfortunate for Harris, then, that her boss put her in charge of solving that very crisis.
Harris also has a detectable knack for deflecting responsibility and ducking tough questions. Sometimes she does that with a dismissive cackle, and other times—drawing on her experience as a former trial lawyer and prosecutor—by redirecting the line of questioning.
We caught a glimpse of this technique recently during a weird interview with Lester Holt, in which the NBC News anchor asked Harris why she hasn’t visited the U.S.-Mexico border. Visibly irritated by the question, she responded with an out-of-place non-sequitur.
“I haven’t been to Europe either,” Harris snapped.
I can’t wait for that trip. NATO had better watch out. A wicked cold front could be coming in from Washington.