Illegal immigration remains a crisis at the border, and critics do not see it diminishing anytime soon, especially since the Biden administration continues to roll back strict enforcement policies. Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is tackling the “root causes” driving migration, which means visiting other countries without even taking a peek at the United States southern border. However, the VP’s visit to Guatemala on June 7 and her reasoning over the surge in migrants to the U.S. did not sit well with the country’s president, Alejandro Giammattei.
In fact, the VP was greeted upon her arrival with a protest: Guatemalans waved signs that read “Kamala, Trump won,” “Kamala, Go Home,” and “Kamala, Mind Your Own Business,” after Giammattei, on June 6, expressed his opinions on Harris’ “root causes.”
Last month, Harris said, “I’m thinking of corruption, violence and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance” to explain why so many immigrants are crossing the border into America. But in an interview with CBS News, Giammattei claimed the Biden administration’s changes in immigration policies are to blame:
“The message changed too: ‘We’re going to reunite families, we’re going to reunite children.’ The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”
“We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving.”
Perhaps Harris was trying to send that stronger advice when she spoke to the people of Guatemala. She warned that the United States would uphold immigration laws, watered down as they have been by Biden, and that people need to migrate legally. “The goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home.” Then she followed up with Barack Obama’s message during his presidency, warning immigrants seeking to relocate to the United States: “Do not come. Do not come.” She then added:
“We, as one of our priorities, will discourage illegal migration. And I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
The VP is in Guatemala on a two-day trip to meet with Giammattei and other officials, and she will head to Mexico afterward. Some of her talking points include ways to increase economic opportunities in the country as well as how the government can strengthen laws and cooperation among law enforcement.
According to Gerardo Berthin, director of Latin America and Caribbean Programs at Freedom House, the focus of her tour is to highlight what is causing so many people to leave the Northern Triangle, which includes Guatemala as well as Honduras and El Salvador. “Even though the discussion will be on migration, behind the issue of migration are other issues – migration is really the consequence of other issues.” He continued: “Those issues have to do with democratic governance – these governments have not invested in their democracies even if they were doing very well financially.”
The Biden administration’s plan to control illegal immigration appears to be to help other countries improve their public policies and make life better for their citizens, making them happy so they won’t want to leave their native lands. Critics have reprimanded the VP for refusing to visit the U.S. southern border to figure out a way to help the states swamped with illegal migration and to show support for overwhelmed border agents. Some have remarked on the audacity of the VP to pin the border crisis on the mismanagement of other governments, and it appears those nations are beginning to question whether they want the Biden administration imposing its own plans to fix the problems it sees on their soil.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.