Vice President Kamala Harris has spent only three days in Central America during the two brief trips since she was assigned the mission of addressing the “root cause” of mass migration to the southern border.
Harris has taken two brief trips to Latin America in her nearly two years in office. Since her last visit in June, annual encounters at the border hit their highest total in American history at 2.1 million in August. If the trend continues at a similar pace, total encounters will surpass 3 million for 2022.
Harris waited six months to visit the southern border for the first time as vice president and has yet to return. She declared in an interview last month that “the border is secure.”
While spending almost no time going to investigate the causes herself, Haris has spoken about the issue in the U.S. and announced new undertakings
The Summit of the Americas, where Latin American countries gather to discuss diplomacy, took place in the U.S. this year for the first time since 1994. The conference featured a speech from Harris, who criticized the prevalence of corruption in the region and declared the Biden administration is “making progress” on addressing the root cause of the border crisis.
Harris at the summit touted more than $3 billion in private sector commitments to Latin America since President Biden took office. The administration, however, has been unable to push through Congress a $4 billion relief package for Central America that aims to reduce migration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Harris met with three leaders of Latin American countries in her two trips: the presidents of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, which have three of the top four most migrants who flee to the U.S. border. But all three of these leaders later boycotted the summit after the State Department announced it would not invite the undemocratically elected leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
First lady Jill Biden made a six-day trip to Central America in May, which doubles the length Harris has spent in the region. The first lady focused her tour on building alliances with countries in the region.
Mike Pence, as vice president, also made a six-day trip to Central America in 2017.
The vice president’s office did not respond to a request for comment.