Ever since Joe Biden assigned her the unenviable and dubious task of meeting with leaders of Northern Triangle countries to ferret out the root causes of migration, Kamala Harris has worn her assignment like a protective shield. Whenever someone from the media asks her when she plans to visit the border, her answer is the same: that she will get there but that first she must attend to the far more pressing task of determining why people migrate in the first place.
Here she is tackling that very question posed by NBC’s Lester Holt (beginning at 1:27). A transcript follows the clip.
Lester Holt: You’ve heard it here, and you’ll hear it again, I’m sure. Why not visit the border? Why not see what Americans are seeing in this crisis?
Kamala Harris: Well, we are going to the border. You have to deal with what’s happening at the border — there’s no question of that. … But we have to understand that there’s a reason people are arriving at our border and ask “What is that reason?” And then identify the problem so we can fix it.
Whether pinpointing the root causes of migration takes precedence over a border overrun by incoming migrants, the question that logically arises is what exactly the administration hopes to learn from its meetings with leaders of Central American countries that they shouldn’t already know?
If they need outside help with the root causes of migration, why don’t they assemble a task force to visit BBC Bitesize, a collection of “simple-to-follow lessons and videos for pupils aged 4 to 14” who are falling behind in school? In the lesson on “migration trends,” the writers explain:
People migrate for many different reasons. These reasons can be classified as economic, social, political or environmental:
- economic migration — moving to find work or follow a particular career path
- social migration — moving somewhere for a better quality of life or to be closer to family or friends
- political migration — moving to escape political persecution or war
- environmental causes of migration include natural disasters such as flooding
Some people choose to migrate, eg someone who moves to another country to enhance their career opportunities. Some people are forced to migrate, eg someone who moves due to war or famine.
A refugee is someone who has left their home and does not have a new home to go to. Often refugees do not carry many possessions with them and do not have a clear idea of where they may finally settle.
Presumably, the reason people from Central America are leaving their homelands — and homes — in such large numbers can be traced to multiple factors. One of them is unquestionably the open invitation to come here that they received from Joe Biden early in his presidency.
If the White House requires a more nuanced answer, maybe the president could appoint a second task force to watch the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” which is set in a fictitious Russian village named Anatevka at the turn of twentieth century. At the end of the play, new discriminatory laws forbidding Jews from living in towns of less than 10,000 force the residents of Anatevka to leave their beloved (and on some level hated) homeland, with many heading to America. As they begin their long journey across Europe, the entire company sings:
What do we leave? Nothing much.
Underfed, overworked Anatevka.
Where else could Sabbath be so sweet?
Intimate, obstinate Anatevka,
Where I know everyone I meet.
Soon I’ll be a stranger in a strange new place,
Searching for an old familiar face
I belong in Anatevka,
Tumble-down, work-a-day Anatevka.
Dear little village, little town of mine.
Or maybe the administration could dispense with all of this and own up to the real problem at hand. That is how to contain the ungodly mess it created at the border, first by touring the site of the damage.