Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday the US government will focus on helping Central American farmers affected by climate change in an effort to address a root cause of migration.
Harris has been tasked with spearheading President Joe Biden’s bid to resolve the long-running problem of uncontrolled migration over the US-Mexican border.
The US department of agriculture “is going to increase our focus and our resources around helping farmers in that region who have been devastated by crisis in terms of climate and drought,” Harris told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Harris pointed to climate change as one of the root causes of the migration surge, due to extreme weather conditions such as drought devastating the Central American agricultural industry.
“A residual point is not only about the economic devastation and what we need to do to assist with economic development and relief, but it’s also they’ve got extreme hunger there and food insecurity,” Harris said.
“If parents and children cannot literally eat, if they cannot have the basic essential things that everyone needs to live, of course they’re going to flee.”
Harris will meet virtually with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday and with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on May 7.
She also confirmed to CNN she intends to travel to Central America to meet with the two leaders in person.
“We’re working on the plan to get there. We have to deal with Covid issues, but I can’t get there soon enough in terms of personally getting there,” she said.
The schedule raises the profile of Harris on one of the toughest-to-resolve issues facing the new Biden administration.
Unlike Republican Donald Trump, who emphasized physically stopping would-be immigrants from crossing the border, Biden and Harris have pledged to help regional governments address the poverty and violence driving people to make the difficult journey north in the first place.