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Kamala Harris immigration: VP says US wants to work with Guatemala to stem migration

Adam Schultz (via White House) / Wikimedia Commons

Vice President Kamala Harris is on her first foreign trip to Mexico and Guatemala as part of her diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration.

As the Biden administration is facing a record number of migrants looking to enter the US, Harris said during her visit to Guatemala that the US hopes to work with them in addressing the root causes of migration.

Harris met with President Alejandro Giammattei in Guatemala city during her visit, where she said that one of the priorities of the Biden administration is to reduce undocumented migration from the region to the US.

Harris noted that people usually do not want to leave their hometowns or home countries but are forced to flee due to their safety getting threatened or they are not able to meet their basic needs. Harris also urged residents of Guatemala not to make the dangerous journey to the southern border of the US regardless of reasons for leaving.

Harris then proposed that the US and Guatemala find solutions to problems that contribute to migration. The vice president noted that the people must be given the hope that there is help coming for them. Giammattei then said that the country looks to cooperate so conditions in Guatemala so that the country’s youth could find the hope that it currently does not have.

“It must be coupled with relationships of trust. It must be coupled with tangible outcomes, in terms of what we do as leaders to convince people that there is a reason to be hopeful about their future and the future of their children,” said Harris.

However, Harris’ remarks warning Guatemala residents not to make the journey to the US were met with criticism from top progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC. Ocasio-Cortez said Harris’ remarks warning residents not to cross the border to the US were “disappointing.”

“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,” tweeted AOC.

Some human rights groups also criticized the vice president’s remarks. Non-profit organization Refugees International Latin America advocate Rachel Schmidtke said that they will continue to urge the Biden administration to create policies that recognize the need for Guatemalans to seek refuge or asylum in the US.

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