President Biden on Wednesday tapped Vice President Harris to oversee efforts to slow the rush of migrants to the southern border, handing her a high-profile and politically fraught assignment amid fresh concerns from lawmakers and activists about the growing crisis.

The move came on the same day a delegation of senior White House officials and members of Congress visited a facility in Carrizo Springs, Tex., where migrant children are being held. The Biden administration is seeking urgently to process, shelter and care for thousands of young children and teenagers arriving at the border without their parents.

Biden called Harris “the most qualified person” to lead the U.S. dialogue with Mexico and Central American countries “that are going to need help in stemming the movement of so many folks.”

“It’s not her full-responsibility job, but she is leading the effort because I think the best thing to do is to put someone who, when he or she speaks, they don’t have to wonder about, is that where the president is,” Biden said. “When she speaks, she speaks for me.”

The decision puts Harris in charge of one of the toughest problems facing the Biden administration, involving an issue that has vexed the last few presidencies. Harris until now lacked a specific portfolio, though Biden had said he wanted to put her in charge of pressing issues as they arose, a role he played for former president Barack Obama.

Harris is widely seen as a potential successor to Biden, and her new assignment gives her an opportunity to build her foreign policy credentials, strengthen her ties to the Latino community and resolve a high-profile problem. But the potential for failure is also clear, and a stumble could hurt her presidential ambitions…


image…Star Tribune