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With regard to the coming presidential election in 2024 — the scenarios for which already are creating an escalating buzz — it is amazing to see the false bravado building among some in the Republican Party with regard to the fantasy of how easy it will be to reclaim the White House.     

In checking off that victory box, they are underestimating or ignoring the one political force that could crush their dreams: Vice President Harris. Maybe they assume they are going to face the woman who got next to no votes in the 2020 Democratic primary and was forced to end her campaign in late 2019. If so, they are making a mistake.   

While acknowledging that President Biden has made known his intention to run for reelection, let’s default to the politically probable. For age and health reasons, Biden may not run for a second term — and some believe there’s a possibility that Harris might very well become president before 2024.  

Whichever office she holds when the election cycle begins, Harris is likely to be a formidable force who should not be discounted by anyone on the right — despite her poor showing in the 2020 cycle. Each day in the White House teaches her how to more effectively wield the tremendous power of that institution and is making her more battle-hardened in the process.

It’s a process that is also punishingly political.

Harris knows that as well as anyone. For that reason, she has not only the best interests of the United States at heart but also the best interests of Kamala Harris at heart. 

Back in 1955, former U.S. submarine Cmdr. Edward Beach wrote a bestselling novel titled “Run Silent, Run Deep,” which became a 1958 movie by the same name starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. Its obvious theme was to run silent and run deep so as not to give away your position until ready to attack.

When immersed in turbulent political waters, experienced and intelligent politicians quickly learn to “run silent and run deep” — they hold their cards tightly to their chests while giving deep thought to the obstacles before them.

Since she was chosen as Biden’s running mate, and most especially since becoming vice president, Harris, one could certainly argue, has been pragmatically “running very silent and very deep.”   

The political waters in which she finds herself are not only turbulent but unchartered in many ways. Her boss is the oldest person ever elected president in the history of the United States and someone who is seen as the face of the entrenched establishment by many on the left.

Common sense and the will for political survival would dictate that Harris tread lightly at first, a fair distance away from the Good Ship Biden, which might sail into a storm — self-created or otherwise — in the blink of an eye.

For Harris, two quick examples of damaging political and policy storms threatening to engulf her come to mind. The first is the increasingly untenable immigration issue along our border with Mexico. Last week, Biden finally used the word “crisis” while addressing the subject.

On March 24, Biden placed Harris in charge of managing the migrant surge that has been washing up to the border. Said a senior administration official that day, during a conference call with the media, “Starting today, the Northern Triangle nations and Mexico will know there was one senior official dedicated to this effort. To be very clear, this is an important task.”

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OK, that’s one way to look at it. Another way, if one were just the least bit cynical, would be to conclude that Biden put Harris in charge of that visual, social and political hot potato because he knew it could be an eventual “lose-lose” for him and wanted to transfer ownership of that quagmire to her. Harris would understand this “honor” handed to her from the president better than anyone. 

For the past three weeks, much of the conservative media have pounded the fact that even though Biden put her in charge, Harris has not visited the border to address the “crisis.” Politically, why should she? Any competent political adviser would tell her that until she has iron-clad evidence of good news to report, she should remain silent and let the various federal agencies involved there continue their work.
The next example is a self-created storm that Harris did not need: Biden’s decision to call Russian President Vladimir Putin “a killer.”Again, if we assume that Harris might like to run for president in 2024, having Biden call a tough world leader “a killer” — a leader with whom she will have to deal in one form or another, a man who controls a massive nuclear arsenal, powerful military, first-rate intelligence service and small army of skilled cyber hackers — is clearly a headache she could do without.

At the moment, Harris is doing precisely what appears to be in the best interests of her political future. She is running silent and deep until she feels certain she has a firm hand on the controls. In the meantime, if Republicans continue to underestimate the vice president and her political strategy, their chances of winning the next presidential election could be sunk by a few well-placed Harris torpedoes come fall 2024. 

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.

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These immigrants have one shot to come to the US. But Biden has to act.

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Three years ago, amid negotiations over immigration reform, then-President Donald Trump infamously questioned why the US was taking in immigrants from “Shithole countries.”

He was referring to people from African nations who often have no legal pathway to come to the US except through a program known as the “diversity visa lottery.” Every year, roughly 55,000 people from countries with low levels of immigration to the US are chosen via a lottery to apply for a visa through the program. For many of them, it’s a golden ticket to a better life.

It wasn’t the first time the program had been targeted and misrepresented by Trump. He blamed a 2017 terrorists attack in New York on the program, vowing to end it. And he presented it as antithetical to his proposal for a “marit-based” immigration system, under which the US would select visa applicants based on desirable labor market attributes — defined so as to make the immigrant population whiter and richer.

Trump never actually managed to end the program, but his administration deprioritized the applicants relative to other immigrants. President Joe Biden’s election was supposed to bring diversity visa applicants relief. He had promised on the campaign trail that he would keep the program intact, and soon after his inauguration, he pledged to expand the program by 25,000 visasannually as part of his proposed comprehensive immigration reform package.

But well into the first year of his presidency, that hasn’t come to fruition. Rather, diversity visa lottery winners who applied for visas amid the Covid-19 pandemic now risk losing their opportunity to come to the US — in part because the State Department has continued the Trump-era policy of deprioritizing their applications.

“What the Biden administration has done to the diversity visa program in deprioritizing, it contravenes those campaign promises, and we’re worse off because of it,” said Rafael Urena, an American attorney representing diversity visa applicants affected by the policy. “We really draw from the strength of our diverse population.”

In response to a request for comment, a State Department official emailed me a statement on the condition of anonymity saying that the US government’s capacity to review these applications and schedule the required interviews depends on US embassies and consulates abroad, many of which are backlogged due to closures and capacity limits amid the pandemic.

They have been prioritizing services to US citizens overseas and issuing visas in urgent or emergency situations, such as for people seeking to aid America’s response to the pandemic. Immediate family members of US citizens, international adoptions, and engaged couples are next on the priority list. Diversity visa applicants are at the very bottom.

“Because of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is impossible to forecast how many [diversity visas] we will issue this year, but we want to set appropriate expectations and say that it is very likely we will not issue the full allotment allowed,” the official said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in profound reductions in the Department’s visa processing capacity,” the official added. “Additionally, a range of presidential proclamations restricting travel in response to the pandemic have resulted in further constraints on visa issuances worldwide.”

That means diversity visa applicants could miss a once-in-a-lifetime chance to come to the US. The government has to process their applications by a September 30 deadline; otherwise, they lose their spot. And they likely won’t win the lottery again — they have a less than 1 percent chance of being selected from among more than 23 million entrants.

“It’s once in a lifetime,” said Maxwell Goodluck, a diversity visa lottery winner from Ghana who applied every year for 12 years before he was eventually selected. “If we lose this opportunity, it would take the grace of God for it to come back again,” he told me, referring to himself and the other applicants in the same position. “We don’t know what to do.”

The administration’s failure to issue diversity visas has left thousands in limbo

Severals lawsuits  brought by roughly 25,000 diversity visa lottery winners from 141 countries altogether have argued that the federal government faces a legal obligation to review the applications of people who won the lottery and that the US’s vast resources can make that happen. But if that’s not possible, they say they should still have the opportunity to be issued a visa beyond the September 30 deadline.

For Lizbeth Rosales, a diversity visa lottery winner from Lima, Peru, that’s just what seems right. “We don’t have anything against the country or the citizens of America. We just want whatever is fair. That’s it,” she said. “We are not just case numbers. We are people. We have feelings, we have hopes, dreams. This is our only chance for a better future.”

The uncertainty as to whether diversity visa lottery winners will eventually be able to come to the US has left many putting their plans on hold and living with constant anxiety.

Rosales, who also applied for diversity visas on behalf of her husband and their two young children, w as planning to move to New Orleans, where she previously spent a year working in the hospitality industry as an intern on a student visa.

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She has friends there who encouraged her to apply for the visa lottery in the first place, and her husband, who works as a cook on a cruise ship, would also be able to find work. They were also hoping to pursue better educational opportunities for themselves and for their 4-year-old son and almost 1-year-old daughter.

Given that the pandemic has hit Peru particularly hard, leading to one of the highest per capita death rates in the world and a deep economics recessions, Rosales said that moving to the US at this particular moment seems especially attractive. But the uncertainty has been tough to live with. She has commiserated with other diversity visa lottery winners in the region on WhatsApp groups.

“For some of them, this is their only way out. This really breaks my heart because I consider myself to be in a better position than others. It may be God making me experience all of this to better understand or value my life,” she said. “I feel affected not only for me but for the rest. You feel touched by other people’s suffering. So this definitely creates sadness and anxiety as well. I wish the reality was different.”

Goodluck, the lottery winner from Ghana, says he and others are experiencing this anxiety. “We hardly sleep these days,” he told me. “Sometimes, you can’t even concentrate. You’re thinking about it 24/7. To console ourselves, we end up crying.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is working in the IT department for Ghana’s education department, but he says he has always wanted to pursue cybersecurity, which would require further education. He has a cousin in Colorado who has promised to support him in that goal if he moves to the US.

His backup plan is to pursue a master’s degree in computer science in Ghana. In order to study cybersecurity, he would have to take an online course. But the fees are high, and he doesn’t want to start the program without knowing whether he will stay in the country.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said.

Democrats in Congress have proposed legislation to help — but it might not go far enough

House Democrats have been trying to remedy the plight of diversity visa lottery winners from 2020 and 2021, but it’s not clear they will succeed.

Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) has put forth an amendments to a Homeland Security appropriations bill that would allow unused diversity visas from 2020 and 2021 to remain available after the fiscal year ends on September 30. That means that a portion of the 55,000 or so diversity visas allocated for next year would go to people who had applied in previous years.

Though the amendment has passed in the relevant House committee, the entire bill still has to survive a full floor vote in the House. And it has yet to be considered by the Senate, where it is likely to face opposition from GOP members.

In May, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) also introduced legislation that would aid the almost 21,000 people who were either granted diversity visas or had applied for them but were prevented from entering the country under Trump-era bans. However, it hasn’t gained any traction in the months since.

But neither of those bills addresses the lengthy wait times that diversity visa applicants are likely to face, even if they remain eligible beyond the September deadline. And diversity visa applicants from years past would take away spots from future applicants under Meng’s amendment.

“It would solve the issue of loss of eligibility,” Urena, the attorney representing diversity visa applicants, said. “But actually getting them into the country — the Biden administration would have to refocus its efforts on adjudicating diversity visas. We’re looking at long wait times and basically losing eligibility every year for [new] diversity visa applicants.”

Urena said the cost of waiting can be high. He had one client who had won the diversity visa lottery in 2020 but died while he was waiting for his visa to be issued. His older children had been hoping to come to the US on diversity visas and start a new life, but that won’t be possible now because they are no longer eligible through their father.

It’s a frustrating reality for families that are just trying to find a legal pathway to come to the US. “We didn’t do anything against the law. We just follow what is supposed to be followed,” Rosales said. “If we really are treated with fairness, we can be a good asset to the country.”

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[VIDEO] GOP Lawmaker Says His District Is ‘Under Direct Assault’ From Biden’s Border Policies

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In the House GOP weekly address, Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) blamed President Biden’s policies for harming his district and others across the country.

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