Vice President Kamala Harris issued a direct warning to migrants considering making the trek to the United States, “Do not come. Do not come,” contradicting the open-border platform which she and Joe Biden were elected upon.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come, do not come.”
Harris’s comments came after meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei during her first trip to the region.
At the same time as Harris’ trip, the Biden administration announced the Justice Department would create an anti-corruption task force and an additional task force to combat human trafficking and drug smuggling in the region.
Harris also promised a new program focused on creating education and economic opportunities for girls there, among other new initiatives.
But much of what Harris and the rest of the Biden admin have planned for the region is largely just talk. Previous administrations have been unable to achieve similar goals in their efforts to stem the tide of migration to the United States.
Part of the challenge is that many of the governments in the region remain riddled with corruption.
Giammattei himself has faced criticism over his handling of the issue. Last month, two lawyers who are outspoken critics of Giammattei’s administration were arrested on what they say were false charges aimed at silencing them.
And the selection of judges for Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, its highest, was mired in influence peddling and allegations of corruption. Giammattei picked his chief of staff to fill one of the five vacancies. When Gloria Porras, a respected force against corruption, was elected to a second term, the congress controlled by Giammattei’s party refused to seat her.
Nevertheless, Harris said the Justice Department, Treasury and State Departments would work together on anti-corruption investigations and train local law enforcement to conduct their own.
“We are creating this task force to address corruption. We are working on a task force that is about human smuggling. We are doing the work of requiring certain progress be made if we are going to attract U.S. investment, private investment, to this region,” said Harris.
Giammattei said the U.S. and Guatemala also agreed to collaborate on a “very simple process” through visas to allow for regular migration to the U.S., and that the two countries would work to prioritize family reunifications.
The White House also announced a $7.5 million commitment through USAID to support entrepreneurs and innovators in Guatemala, as well as millions more in investments in affordable housing, agri-businesses and loans to small businesses in the country.
While Harris has shown face in Guatemala, Congressional Republicans have criticized both President Joe Biden and Harris for not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border and suggest the administration is ignoring what they a dire crisis there.
April was the second-busiest month on record for unaccompanied children encountered at the border, following March’s all-time high. The Border Patrol’s total encounters in April were up 3% from March, marking the highest level since April 2000.
Author: Blake Rider