What Happened to The “Border Crisis”? The Sudden Shift in The Media’s Obsession With Migration, and Kamala Harris’s Coming Triumph

At the time President Biden tapped Vice President Harris to head the administration’s efforts to address the root causes of migration in response to the surge of unaccompanied children at the southern border, the media’s cage-rattling about what they called the “border crisis” had hit a crescendo.

On March 23, an Axios report showed that the volume of online stories from top sources had outstripped stories about coronavirus vaccination by nearly 2-to-1, demonstrating how the media can ignore an actual crisis and manufacture an entirely new one. On March 24, Biden put Harris in charge.

Republican politicians and Conservative and “mainstream” media panned Biden’s decision to charge Harris with this responsibility as a dangerous mistake of assigning a serious border portfolio to who they portray as a border neophyte.

The New York Post editorial board lamented that putting Harris in charge proved that Biden didn’t take the border seriously because as Attorney General of California, Harris implemented policies preventing state law enforcement from detaining people in California on federal immigration requests in the absence of a warrant duly issued by a court.

Politico, master of clickbait, accused the President of setting up his own Vice President to fail, saying Biden had handed Harris a “political grenade,” though much of the article they ran under that headline carefully hedged their bets.

Suffice it to say, the media, at the behest of the Trumpian right, was rooting for the Vice President to fail.

But it’s not working out that way. In the past week and a half, Harris and the Biden administration appear to have been able to seed a multilateral response to the migrant surge, including Harris’s core mission, addressing the root causes such as poverty and trafficking.

Perhaps that explains the sudden shift in the media’s mood when it comes to this issue. After incessantly dramatizing the border almost since the beginning of the Biden administration, media interest in it appears to have suddenly receded. Migration or the border is no longer headlining the Sunday news shows today, after weeks of breathless, drama-filled coverage. ABC’s This Week flew an entire set to the border (because you know, it’s dangerous there) in late March, for example, but the urge for another hit of that drug appears to have vanished. Heck, migration didn’t even make it into the promos for the Sunday shows, including for Fox News Sunday.

I have a theory as to why: Harris is on a path to success, and they don’t want to lose credibility by betting against her.

News surfaced on Monday that Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras would deploy additional troops, some at their borders with each other, some throughout their countries, and some at the US-Mexico border, to help stem the tide of immigration caravans. Guatemalan forces have already been breaking up caravans moving through the country to their border with Mexico.

The Mexican, Guatemalan, and Honduran troops will not just break up moving migrant caravans through their own borders and into the United States, they will also fight cartels and human traffickers, as well as provide services to migrants. This development comes on the heels of a phone call between Harris and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on April 7, which both the US and Mexican sides said included broad agreement on rendering humanitarian aid and fighting trafficking.

By the end of last week, Mexico had taken even more decisive action to make sure that stemming the flow of migrants doesn’t just mean that innocent children get to suffer in other countries. President Obrador announced that in addition to the 10,000 troops the country has committed to stem the migration flow, the director of Mexico’s child and families protection agency was moving to the Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, signifying the Mexican government’s impetus to protect and provide services for migrant children.

Harris's fingerprints are all over this. To understand how, we need to delve a little into the Vice President's days as the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California.

Transnational organized crime that makes victims of migrants was a specialty of Kamala Harris’s when she led the largest state Department of Justice in the United States as the Attorney General of the State of California. For some reason, most media outlets appear either unaware of it or do not think it important to mention in the context of Harris’s role at the top of the administration’s response to the border.

Harris has never had any qualms about dealing with gangs and other forms of organized crime harshly and to the fullest extent of the law. From her first year as Attorney General to her last, she busted up gangs, took their guns, money, and drugs, and locked them up. She issued an extensive report on cross border organized crime, titled ‘Gangs Beyond Borders’, and when the California legislature eliminated money in the state budget for a gang task force used to fight transnational gangs, Harris fought her own party in the legislature to get it back.

Harris was an effective crime-fighter, but she knew that on cross-border organized crime, going it alone wouldn't be enough. That's why even as a state official, she sought out an ambitious, international role. In 2014, she enlisted other states and worked with Mexico to establish a binational working group to target, find, and prosecute money laundering on both sides of the southern border.

In California, Harris’s role on the issues of immigration wasn’t limited to busting gangs, either. She used her office to protect immigrant communities just as much as she used it to bust up transnational gangs. Before California had become the country’s first sanctuary state, Harris used her office to issue a bulletin to local law enforcement agencies noting that compliance ICE detainer requests - as opposed to warrants issued by a court - is discretionary.

And when she arrived in the US Senate, Harris used her time in the minority to take on a large immigration portfolio that included championing immigration reform and DACA recipients, and making Trump appointees very, very uncomfortable in their witness chairs.

The Vice President is not a neophyte on the border; in fact, she is likely more versed, experienced, knowledgeable, and practical about these issues than most people who discount her.

It is abundantly clear that this is why Biden picked Harris to head the effort to address root causes of migration. Harris is familiar with the humanitarian issues at the border, she is a fearless advocate for immigrant communities, she does not wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to getting tough on traffickers, and she has existing relationships on these exact issues with law enforcement on the US side and the government in Mexico.

Republicans believe that border policy is an area where the Biden administration is vulnerable; perhaps the only area where they truly believe Biden is vulnerable. They are hoping to make Kamala Harris the face of that perceived vulnerability, in hopes of dooming her prospects of running for president in the future.

But in doing so, they are running a risk: betting against a meticulously prepared leader who is known for turning perceived vulnerabilities into strengths. If that materializes to be the case here - when that materializes to be the case here - the cynical right wing bet is set to go up in flames.

Nothing would be more satisfying.

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