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Shadow and light on the migration mission of Kamala Harris

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If it’s true that the official visit of Vice President Kamala Harris to Mexico and Central America, to discuss the root causes of immigration to the North, advances a mission with more long term than short term goals, the need to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades, working and paying taxes, is immediate.

That is a reality that, due to its palpable evidence, should be prioritized in every single realm, not only to resolve once and for all the unstable migration and economic situation of these millions of human beings, but also to see if, on this occasion, promises made during the campaign will be completed. And it’s true that there were many that the debt has stacked up for generation after generation of immigrants, for at least the last 30 years.

Because pretending that Harris waves a magic wand and ends all of the reasons that force and will continue to force millions to continue looking toward the United States as their only salvation only serves to continue postponing the legalization solution for those who are already here.

To what purpose do we prolong solutions to an issue that has been as analyzed, discussed to the point of exhaustion, understood, and accepted as the issue of immigration? Why accommodate and pay attention to the Republican side that has already become an anti-immigrant and xenophobic arm? But above all, why not use the political legitimacy that the polls have conferred on this administration to focus all of its power on regularizing these 11 million undocumented immigrants? Is that too much to ask?

While it is laudable to try to direct funds to measures that combat the flow of migrants from their countries of origin, the reality is that we cannot end decades of corruption, misery, gang violence, lack of educational access, unemployment, and political instability overnight. In fact, this type of help is not new, nor has it resulted in better conditions for the region; in fact, it has served to foment even more corruption among elites, who use the monies like slush funds to fuel their power and illicit wealth, especially since there has been no accountability.

Likewise, we cannot get rid of the disasters that decades of U.S. interventionism in the governments and civil wars of many of these nations have created in one fell swoop. First we create the disaster, wash our hands of it, and when the inhabitants of these countries come to our border in search of help, we lament the crisis that we helped create in the first place.

It is, in other words, the “boomerang effect” that history always assesses to the great societies who become consolidators of political and economic power, and at the end of the day don’t know what to do with the products of their own international decisions involving interventionism.

We understand that the Biden administration has been forced to put Harris at the head of a complicated mission that only deals with one aspect of the migration phenomenon. Because the other factor, the millions of undocumented immigrants who continue to wait to be legalized, are already here among us and are not going anywhere. And if we divide these undocumented immigrants into groups, it is already immoral that we have not legalized them, as in the case of farmworkers, which the food supply chain depends on for their daily labor.

If it has to start with one group, it is past time to remember our farm workers, not only because without them we don’t eat, but because it’s an insult to humanity that the most powerful nation on the planet continues the super-exploitation of these thousands of families who carry out one of the most complicated and specialized jobs, on top of being so badly paid.

Additionally, the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied migrant children to our borders provoked the Biden administration to announce Harris’ role in addressing the roots of the phenomenon, after the Republicans denounced a “crisis” at the border that in reality occurs every year, with ebbs and flows, but is always a cyclical phenomenon.

This is not a new situation just because they have barely noticed something that has been at its peak for decades, nor should they bury their heads in the sand for completely ideological-political reasons that will never advance this discussion.

We don’t know how the internal Democratic fight to try to approve measures with a simple majority in the Senate, in place of the 60 votes needed to overcome a hold or a filibuster, will end. In that situation, Biden has two hurdles in his own party —the Democratic senators of West Virginia and Arizona, Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema— who are more aligned with the Republicans and oppose eliminating the filibuster, even if this means they will not approve a measure to try to protect the right to vote from attacks by Republican legislatures around the country. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

When you have identified enemies within your ranks, the best thing to do is call the roll, purge the party, and no longer take into account those who intend to hijack the decisions of the governing majority.

On Sunday, the plane that was taking Harris and her entourage to Central America and Mexico had to return to Andrews Airforce Base due to a “technical” problem. We hope this false start is not a harbinger of things to come on the migration terrain.

To read the Spanish version of this article click here.