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Kamala Harris to tackle immigration on US-Mexico border

Episode 210325 / 25 Mar 2021

The story

US President Joe Biden has put Vice-President Kamala Harris in charge of controlling migration at the southern border following a big influx of new arrivals.

Useful vocabulary

migration – movement of people from one country to another

influx – large groups of people arriving at the same time

minors – young people; not legally adults

flee – escape

policy – official plan to do something made by an organisation or government

sponsoring – receiving payment (to do something)

immigrants – people who have moved to another country permanently

stemming – stopping or controlling (something)

laced - mixed

draconian – severe; strict

Questions about the story 

1. Where have most of the immigrants at the US-Mexico border come from?

2. What has Vice-President Kamala Harris been asked to do?

3. Which people are being held in immigration detention facilities?

4. Why has a policy of turning away unaccompanied children been reversed?

5. Has Vice-President Kamala Harris been able to reduce the number of immigrants coming to the USA?

More about the story

What has been happening?
The number of people arriving at the US-Mexico border has been growing since President Biden took office. They include hundreds of unaccompanied minors who are being held in immigration detention centres.

Why has this been happening?
Many people have been heading to the US-Mexico border to flee poverty and violence in Central America. The previous president, Donald Trump, was widely criticised over his government's treatment of young migrants at the US-Mexico border. Since January, the Biden administration has reversed a policy of turning away unaccompanied children, instead choosing to process them and place them with sponsoring families in the US. 

Since taking office, Mr Biden has also ended construction work on Mr Trump's border wall and called for reviews of legal immigration programmes which were ended by the former president.

What is happening now?
Vice-President Kamala Harris has now been given the job of dealing with the influx of immigrants on the US-Mexico border. Mr Biden says: "She's the most qualified person to do it, to lead our efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle [Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador], and the countries that are going to need help in stemming the movement of so many folks - stemming the migration to our southern border".

What will happen next?
It is too early to say if Ms Harris will be able to fix the problem. The BBC’s North America reporter, Anthony Zurcher, says "Biden has given Harris a significant portfolio laced with both political opportunity and peril.  Her challenge is to prove that there is way to stem the tide of undocumented migrants coming to the US from Central America without resorting to what Democrats characterise as the Trump administration's draconian policies."

Find out more from the original BBC news report.

The answers

1. Where have most of the immigrants at the US-Mexico border come from?
Most of them have come from Central America - Mexico and the Northern Triangle [Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador].

2. What has Vice-President Kamala Harris been asked to do?
She has been asked to deal with the influx of immigrants on the US-Mexico border by stemming their movement.

3. Which people are being held in immigration detention centres?
Unaccompanied children are being held in immigration detention centres.

4. Why has a policy of turning away unaccompanied children been reversed?
Because Mr Biden is now the president and his administration has reversed a policy of turning away unaccompanied children.

5. Has Vice-President Kamala Harris been able to reduce the number of immigrants coming to the USA?
It is too early to say if Ms Harris will be able to fix the problem.

Next

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