Kamala Harris' Message to Guatemalans: 'Do Not Come'

VP speaks during her trip to Central American country
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 8, 2021 12:37 AM CDT
Kamala Harris' Message to Guatemalans: 'Do Not Come'
Vice President Kamala Harris is greeted as she exits Air Force Two on arrival in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Guatemalan Air Force Central Command.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – Vice President Kamala Harris offered an optimistic outlook for improved cooperation with Guatemala on addressing the spike in migration to the US after her meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday. She also delivered a direct warning to migrants considering making the trek, the AP reports: “Do not come. Do not come.” Her comments, during a press conference after she met privately with Giammattei, underscored the challenge that remains even as Harris engages in substantive talks with the Guatemalan and Mexican presidents during a three-day visit to the region this week, her first foreign trip as vice president. “I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home," Harris said. “At the same time, 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.”

In conjunction with Harris' trip, the Biden administration announced that 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. And she told Giammattei that her goal in the region was to restore “hope” to residents so they no longer felt the need to flee their homeland for better opportunities in the US. But for all the talk about new ways to cooperate, reining in corruption and improving living conditions in the region have been long-running challenges that previous administrations have been unable to achieve in their efforts to stem the tide of migration to the United States. Part of the challenge remains that, despite the best efforts of US officials, corruption underpins many of the region’s governments. (More on Harris' trip here.)

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