How would a President Harris handle immigration, border crisis?

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With growing calls from some Democrats for President Biden to step aside in favor of a different presidential candidate in the wake of his presidential debate performance last week, it has raised the possibility of a President Kamala Harris – raising questions about how she would handle the ongoing border crisis.

Many Democrats and liberal media figures were left shaken by President Biden’s performance at last week’s debate, during which he stumbled over his words and sounded tired. It has fueled discussion about whether he should step down in favor of another candidate. Should he resign as president, Harris as vice president would be the automatic successor. If he were to finish his term, but did not wish to serve a second, then the DNC would elect a new nominee for the presidential election. Harris would likely be one of the top candidates in that scenario.

Whoever took over from Biden would immediately be thrust into the role of dealing with the ongoing crisis at the southern border, which has seen a record number of encounters since Biden took office. Numbers have dropped in recent months, but it is unclear to what extent that will continue over the typically busy summer months. 


US Vice President Kamala Harris has been going around the country on her Economic Opportunity Tour. (Leigh Vogel/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Vice President Harris would in many ways be a voice of continuity for the current practices of what officials call the Biden-Harris administration. Like President Biden, she has supported the rolling back of Trump-era border policies and has called for a sweeping immigration bill that the administration introduced on day one. That bill not only includes significant reforms and funding measures, but would also provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

“Our immigration system has been broken for decades. That is why President Biden and I have spent the last three years putting forward solutions to fix it and address the root causes of migration,” she said in a statement in February.

Similarly, Harris has backed the bipartisan Senate package which Biden has also supported but has failed to pass the Senate. Like Biden, she has also blamed the failure of that bill to pass the chamber on former President Donald Trump.

“Then, of course, we know that there was bipartisan work that happened, including involving some of the most conservative members of the United States Senate.  A deal was reached, and they got a call from Donald Trump, who said, ‘Don’t put it for a vote.’ Because Donald Trump would prefer to run on a problem instead of fixing a problem,” she said last month.

Harris has also taken the lead on some policy matters. She was tasked in 2021 with leading with leading the diplomatic outreach to tackle the “root causes” of migration in the Northern Triangle countries.

The administration had leaned firmly into the root-causes narrative in early 2021, claiming that those causes – which include climate change, violence, poverty and economic insecurity – were driving migration to the U.S. border. Its answer, therefore, was to engage with governments and to invest in targeting those causes, eventually bringing migration down. 


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June 6, 2024: Migrants line up at the southern border in San Diego. (Fox News)

The assignment quickly led to Harris being dubbed the “border czar” – a title the White House rejected, stressing instead that it was more to do with international engagement. She would go on to visit the border in El Paso in June 2021 after facing pressure to do so.

In that mission, she has seen some success. The project to rally private-sector investment to the region via a call to action has seen more than $5.2 billion committed since May 2021 from over 50 companies and organizations.  Additionally, while it is unclear the extent to which investment has played a role, the numbers of encounters from those three countries has fallen from over 700,000 in FY 21 to over 330,000 so far as of May, with four months left to go.

Harris’ 2019 presidential campaign suggests that, should she become president, she may attempt a more aggressive use of executive action when it comes to granting protection to some illegal immigrants. 

In her campaign platform, Harris promised to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) by executive order – which gives protection to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors. She said she would eliminate age requirements on applications, and use parole authority to create a “parole in place” program to put those illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. Her campaign estimated that the executive actions would result in more than 2 million “Dreamers” being given a pathway to citizenship.


Also by executive order, she promised to shield illegal immigrant parents of American citizens and green card holders from deportation. Overall her plan was predicted to protect over 6 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

The parole in place authority was recently used by President Biden to protect some spouses of American citizens from deportation. In a statement on that action, Harris said it was something she supported — but added that more, including a citizenship pathway for illegal immigrants, still needed to be accomplished.


“While today’s actions are a significant step forward, there is more work to be done to fix our broken immigration system. That includes the need for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. President Biden and I continue to call on the United States Congress to join us in acting by passing permanent protections for Dreamers,” she said.

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