Harris to talk vaccines with Mexican president amid COVID case surge

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Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to speak Monday with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to discuss COVID-19 vaccine distribution amid an uptick in new cases in Mexico and among people illegally crossing the US border.

Lopez Obrador disclosed the plan, saying he and Harris also will talk about “working on our joint agenda of collaboration,” Reuters reports.

The vice president’s office did not release a public version of her daily schedule for Monday and her spokespeople did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

The number of people caught illegally crossing the US-Mexico border surged in June, through July, despite Harris’ trip to Mexico and Guatemala to enlist their support in stemming the flow.

About 189,000 people illegally crossed the border in June, up from more than 180,000 in May, itself a 21-year high.

According to a recent Department of Homeland Security document reported by NBC News, more than 18 percent of family units crossing the border and about 20 percent of unaccompanied minors recently tested positive for COVID-19. The document did not give the timeframe of the sample.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had to scramble to remove infected illegal immigrants from flights to resettle them farther away from the border, NBC reports.

Former President Donald Trump highlighted the report in a Monday statement.

“Just reported that over 20% of the people coming across our Southern Border have Coronavirus (sometimes referred to as the China Virus), many of them being immediately released into our communities—and then our ‘Government’ tells you how to mask up, use three if possible, and how to otherwise act as highly infected people pour into our Country,” Trump wrote.

“Finish the wall in one month, stop paying contractors billions of dollars for NOT building the wall, and stop allowing some of the worst prisoners and criminals anywhere in the world into our Country—jails of other countries are being emptied into ours. Such a thing has never happened to any nation before.”

The more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 has fueled a spike in new cases in Mexico and the United States, particularly in areas with lower rates of vaccination.

The Biden administration has a policy of allowing all unaccompanied minors to remain in the US. A Trump-era COVID-19 policy still in effect allows the immediate expulsion of most migrants, but families also increasingly have been allowed to stay.

Harris’ trip to Guatemala and Mexico in early June was dogged by questions about her refusal to visit the US-Mexico border, which she ultimately did after returning to the US. 

Lopez Obrador has attributed the migrant crisis to President Biden’s policies.

“Expectations were created that with the government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants. And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so,” he said in March.

Republicans also blame Biden’s border policies, his campaign rhetoric about welcoming asylum seekers and Democratic legislation that would legalize most illegal immigrants for sparking the rush to the border.

Biden has said the surge is “seasonal” and the result of pent-up demand after numbers dropped in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. The Biden administration says some people are detained multiple times after being expelled from the US.

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