Vice President Kamala Harris held a virtual meeting with Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador where he pushed his idea of visas for tree planting.
‘Most people don’t want to leave home and when they do it is often because they are fleeing some harm or they are forced to leave because there are no opportunities,’ Harris said at the top of their confab.
The Vice President, who has taken heat for not yet visiting the border, is taking the lead on exploring ‘root causes’ of the immigration surge that overwhelmed border processing facilities this spring.
After months of wearing a mask both indoors and out, she removed it for this Zoom meeting even as White House staffers kept theirs on.
Vice President Kamala Harris holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the vice president’s ceremonial office at the White House in Washington
After months of wearing a mask both indoors and out, she removed it for this Zoom meeting even as White House staffers kept theirs on
‘Most people don’t want to leave home and when they do it is often because they are fleeing some harm or they are forced to leave because there are no opportunities,’ Harris said
During the meeting, Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador where he pushed his idea of visas for tree planting
Harris is seen without her mask during her Zoom meeting with Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador
‘It is in our countries’ mutual interest to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle and to address the root causes of migration,’ she told him. ‘You and I have discussed it before and understanding a belief – most people don’t want to leave home and when they do it is often because they are fleeing some harm or they are forced to leave because there are no opportunity.’
Lopez Obrador made a pitch for a tree planting program for Central America that he also floated at Biden’s White House climate summit.
He told reporters Friday the idea was at the top of his mind, and made a public comment that appeared to reference the idea.
‘We have a specific proposal that I believe will be convenient for us. But I will leave that for later,’ he said to Harris with reporters in the room.
‘We agree with the migration policies you are developing and we are going to help, you can count on us,’ the Mexican president said.
When he pitched the controversial idea last month, Lopez Obrador said it would keep farmers from leaving their homesteads for the U.S, but also made the case for six-month work visas in the U.S. that could lead to citizenship for participants. The plan is to plant a billion fruit and timber trees in the region.
But environmentalists have raised serious doubts about the program to plant commercial trees species, sometimes on land that was forested with indigenous species.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas visited a Texas border facility Friday, after a House Democratic critic of the administration’s immigration policies complained that child immigrants were being moved ‘from one tent to the other tent.’
Mayorkas toured the Donna, Texas processing facility. While there, Mayorkas will get updates on unaccompanied children who continue to come across the border, posting a logistical challenge for the government.
He viewed a Customs and Border Protection facility where images released by the government show a considerable reduction in crowding.
His trip comes after Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar accused the Biden administration of moving unaccompanied minors from one border facility to another to create the impression it is emptying crowded holding areas.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas walks out of a large tent after having a tour inside a temporary Customs and Border Protection processing center on May 7, 2021 in Donna, Texas
A surge of immigrants, including unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States from Mexico is overcrowding such centers in south Texas
Representative Veronica Escobar (D-TX) accompanied Mayorkas on the trip
Katherine, an asylum-seeking migrant mother from Honduras holds and her 2 year old daughter Yaneli, wait to be escorted by the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States on Friday
Asylum-seeking migrant families from Honduras wait to be escorted by the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is visiting the border Friday
The White House had no response when asked about the comments Thursday during President Biden’s day trip to Louisiana.
It is the fourth border visit by Mayorkas and his last since April.
The U.S. has long sought ways to get Mexico to cooperate in stemming the tide of immigration from its side of the border, including from Northern Triangle countries in Central America.
Mexico is seeking assistance combatting gun trafficking, and is now contending with the collapse of a subway in Mexico City.
Cuellar, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, accused the Department of Health and Human Services this week of moving immigrants out of the CBP tents to secure better images of its crowded Donna, Texas facility.
‘All they’re doing is, they’re moving kids from one tent to the other tent and saying: “Oh, they’re not in the Border Patrol (custody). But they’re right next door,”‘ Cuellar said.
Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador forged ties with former President Donald Trump
Cuellar was referencing the effort to transfer minors from Customs and Border Control custody to HHS. The law requires they be transferred within a 72 hour period, although the Administration struggled to comply amid a surge at the border this spring.
He told Border Report the minors held in government custody were simply moved to nearby tent facilities operated by HHS.
‘But they’re right next door. They’re just next door in HHS,’ he said.
He said officials ‘set up maybe five tents that are run by HHS.’
The HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement reported this week that there are currently 22,195 unaccompanied children in its custody – a new record. Additionally, 2,000 children are being held by other federal agencies, the Washington Examiner reported.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared Thursday on former Obama advisor David Axelrod’s podcast, and provided her most fulsome explanation for why Biden has resisted calls that he visit the border.
‘We’re often asked, “Why doesn’t he go to the border?”‘ she told Axelrod. ‘Important issue. We’re focused on it,’ she said.
‘What percentage of the public is focused on the border? A much smaller percentage than who’s focused on the pandemic and the economy. So that may be maddening, but, you know, that’s what we try to do,’ she added.
A government handout photo shows the temporary processing facilities for migrants in Donna, Texas, U.S., April 30, 2021. U.S. officials have reduced the number of unaccompanied children held in border stations in recent weeks as children have been moved to emergency shelters. But Rep. Henry Cuellar says children are being moved from one tent to another
LAST MONTH: In this March 30, 2021, file photo young minors lie inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in Donna, Texas.
In this March 30, 2021, file photo, young unaccompanied migrants, from ages 3 to 9, watch television inside a playpen at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas.
‘All they’re doing is, they’re moving kids from one tent to the other tent and saying: “Oh, they’re not in the Border Patrol (custody). But they’re right next door,”‘ said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.). The administration released images showing a sharp decrease in crowding at the Donna, Texas facility pictured above
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.)
Homeland Security officials this week released photos showing its previously crowded Donna facilities had been emptied out considerably compared to a few weeks ago.
Harris said Wednesday she is likely to visit Mexico and Guatemala in early June as she seeks to address the root causes of immigration.
The Biden administration on Wednesday cited a 90 per cent drop in people held in Border Patrol custody – 600 at the end of April compared to 5,000 in March.
‘The amount of time children spend in CBP custody is down 75 percent, from 131 hours at the end of March to under 30 hours now,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
‘After four years of an immigration system rooted in destructive and chaotic policies, President Biden is taking the challenge head on and building a fair, orderly and humane immigration system, that is our objective,’ she added.
HHS has opened 14 new emergency shelters to deal with the problem.
DailyMail.com has reached out to HHS for additional comment.