Now that the UK’s Nationality and Borders Bill is at Committee stage – where detailed examination of the Bill is taking place – it makes sense to turn our attentions to the other side of the pond, where the US is in the midst of launching its own immigration strategy.
Last week saw Vice President Kamala Harris release plans to address the root causes of migration amid the recent surge in illegal U.S.-Mexico border crossings.
The strategy, which is available on the White House website and which immigration lawyers, Optimus Law, have digested in full, comes as the Biden administration faces a southern border crisis, with migrant detentions hitting 20-year highs in recent months. More than 1.1 million apprehensions have been recorded during the first six months of this fiscal year, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with a record high of nearly 190,000 apprehensions recorded in June alone.
Harris’ plan aims to fix problems in Central American countries so that their citizens are discouraged from immigrating. Her agenda addresses economic insecurity, corruption, countering gang violence, and promoting human rights. The Biden-Harris administration has worked to uphold these pillars by providing COVID vaccines to Latin American countries, requesting that the private sector invest in the region financially, and allocating $310 million to address factors of migration like “drought caused by climate change.”
In a cover letter addressing the plan, Vice President Harris outlines how the root causes of migration run deep in Central America, with migration from the region having a direct impact on the United States.
She states: “For that reason, our nation must consistently engage with the region to address the hardships that cause people to leave Central America and come to our border.
“Ultimately, our Administration will consistently engage in the region to address the root causes of migration. We will build on what works, and we will pivot away from what does not work. It will not be easy, and progress will not be instantaneous, but we are committed to getting it right. Because we know: The strength and security of the United States depends on the implementation of strategies like this one.”
The strategy is broken down into five pillars, but it does not provide a detailed timeline or policy actions to be taken. The pillars include addressing economic insecurity and inequality, combating democratic corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.
The five pillars are:
- Addressing economic insecurity and inequality– investments in creating business-friendly environment and strengthening work force skills, as well as building in measures to protect from the economic damage of climate change
- Combatting corruption– through sanctions on corrupt figures and strengthening watchdogs, while offering protection to vulnerable young people, victims of violence and other marginalized populations
- Promoting respect for human rights– as well labor rights and a free press by working with governments to strengthen legal protections, hold perpetrators responsible and ensure people have access to information from independent sources
- Countering and preventing violence– and extortion and other crimes by strengthening law enforcement and encouraging cooperation between regional governments
- Combatting sexual violence– by working with governments and civil society to prevent and prosecute violence and support victims
The plan also addresses gang violence and crimes and combating sexual and gender-based violence.
Harris noted that the United Nations and the governments of Mexico, Japan and South Korea have committed to joining the effort to address the motivations of migration from Central America.
“The United States cannot do this work alone,” Harris wrote in the cover letter. “Our Strategy is far-reaching—and focuses on our partnerships with other governments, international institutions, businesses, foundations, and civil society.”
The Vice-President’s strategy is part of a broader 21-point plan called the Collaborative Migration Management Strategy that aims to create a more “fair, orderly and humane” immigration system in the wake of the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies.
It focuses on expanding access to legal immigration pathways and improving conditions in countries of origin rather than using physical barriers or punishing migrants who enter illegally and includes speeding up asylum claim processing for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border while also streamlining deportations for those who don’t qualify for asylum.
President Joe Biden appointed Kamala Harris in March to lead the White House’s efforts combating the migration crisis at the southern border. However, she faced backlash for not making an effort to actually visit the border for three months.