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Vice President Harris looks back at 2022, and ahead to 2023

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The vice president, Kamala Harris, sat down today with NPR's Asma Khalid. They talked about her portfolio, including Title 42. That's the pandemic border restriction that barred many migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. and which may come to an end soon. It was set to end on Wednesday. There's been a temporary stay of that. That's because of a request from Republican governors who are worried about a big surge of people coming to the border.

Well, Asma Khalid is here sitting down with us now. Hey there. Welcome.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hey there. Good to be with you.

KELLY: So the vice president has been active in trying to address root causes of migration. How worried is she about the possible end of this rule of Title 42?

KHALID: Well, actually to be clear, I spoke to the vice president earlier today before the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the end of Title 42.

KELLY: OK.

KHALID: But she acknowledged the challenges that the end of the rule poses but threw the bulk of the responsibility for fixing these immigration problems to Congress. Here's a bit of our exchange.

I'm curious if there's anything you feel that you all can do unilaterally. And I guess I say this in part because the governor of your home state of California, he told ABC News that, you know, what we've got right now isn't working. And I'm quoting him here. He said that "it's about to break in a post-42 world unless we take responsibility and ownership." And it sounds like the situation, in certain states - I guess in California in particular - is incredibly dire with a fear that things will become unsustainable in the weeks ahead.

KAMALA HARRIS: Well, listen; I think that it is right to say that we need leadership on this issue, in particular from Congress. Now, the president and I and our administration, we are going to do everything that's within our ability as the executive branch. And that means, again, putting more agents on the border as appropriate so that we can manage what might be an influx. It is about increasing the work that we have been increasing around arresting human smugglers. And it is the work that we have been doing that has been about bringing the partners and the allies together on an international level, understanding that we are seeing these migration trends around the globe and in particular the work that we have done that has been about addressing the root causes of migration from, for example, the northern part of Central America, actually is having an impact.

KHALID: And Mary Louise, this issue has been a part of her assignment as vice president. She has come under political criticism for the situation at the border. But, you know, lately, the big increase has actually been from countries outside of Central America, for example, like Cuba and Venezuela.

KELLY: Changing subjects, you also asked her about Twitter, about all the drama right now. Is she still on there? Is she still tweeting?

KHALID: She is. She and her staff use Twitter frequently. But I asked her, is there a point where she would decide she's not going to use the site anymore?

KELLY: Yeah.

KHALID: She did not really answer that question, but she told me she is concerned about the spread of disinformation.

HARRIS: So what I would say about any social media site is this - I would - I fully expect and would require that leaders in that sector cooperate and work with us who are concerned about national security, concerned about upholding and protecting our democracy, to do everything in their power to ensure that there is not a manipulation that is allowed or overlooked that is done with the intention of upending the security of our democracy and our nation.

KELLY: Asma, I know you only had so much time with the vice president, but were you able to get her engaged? Big picture, like, how does she see these next two years? She's got two years left in this job. Like, what does she want to do?

KHALID: You know, one of big changes is that, you know, she told me she has essentially been on call these last two years for the Senate because the Senate was split evenly. She had to cast the tie-breaking vote. With a new Congress in January, Democrats might have a little more wiggle room, and so she may be less tethered to Washington.

KELLY: NPR's Asma Khalid. And you can hear more of that interview with the vice president tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.

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