Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Guatemala and Mexico on Monday to discuss immigration issues and warn would-be migrants to “not come” to the United States, Politico reports.
Harris met with the countries’ leaders to discuss issues related to the economy and corruption.
“The goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” Harris said in a press conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. “At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come. I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
Harris stressed the need to build an independent judiciary after Giammettei defended a move by Guatemala’s legislature to block a leading anti-corruption judge earlier this year.
“Guatemala and Mexico seem to be the places where we can do the most good in the shortest amount of time right now,” Ricardo Zúñiga, Biden’s special envoy to the Northern Triangle, told Politico. “That’s not to say we don’t have challenges in the relationship or we don’t have different perspectives. We do.”
AOC slams comments:
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Harris for telling migrants not to come.
“This is disappointing to see,” she tweeted. “First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival. Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing.”
“It would be helpful if the US would finally acknowledge its contributions to destabilization and regime change in the region,” she added. “Doing so can help us change US foreign policy, trade policy, climate policy, & carceral border policy to address causes of mass displacement & migration.”
The US recorded more than 178,000 migrants, some of whom were Guatemalan, trying to enter the US in April, the highest one-month total in 20 years.
Harris on Monday discussed plans to tamp down the flow of migration by improving safety, economic security, and anti-corruption efforts in Central America.
The Biden administration plans to launch a task force including law enforcement officers and US prosecutors to conduct investigations and help train Central American authorities. The administration also plans to launch a task force to target human trafficking.
“The messages we received from her were positive,” leading Guatemalan activist Alvaro Montenegro told Politico. “The idea of giving importance to the fight against corruption sends the message that she’s on the people’s side opposite economic and political elites, where what they least want is to talk about corruption because they’re involved.”