Vice President Kamala Harris’s debut on the international stage began Monday as she met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to try and shore up U.S. relations with the country and to discuss corruption and ongoing illegal immigration problem.
Harris’ visit is an attempt to address the crippling economic conditions that have prompted many Guatemalans to try and enter the U.S. The Vice President said Guatemala has to address its government corruption in substantial ways. She also delivered remarks that seemed designed to send the message that the Biden administration has not swung the doors open at its borders to undocumented immigrants.
“I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” Harris said during the news conference. “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.”
The White House faced major criticism earlier this year as a surge of migrants created chaotic conditions at the southern border earlier this year.
Harris is due to visit Mexico on Tuesday as she seeks solutions to the ongoing problem of migration from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the three countries that make up Central America’s northern triangle.
President Biden talked Harris with getting to the root of the immigration problem in the region. It’s just one of the politically-crucial assignments on the Vice President’s plate, alongside voting rights.
Harris also echoed the president’s message for his upcoming trip to Europe, saying foreign policy and domestic issues are “interconnected” and that it was important to maintain productive relations with allies.
Harris’ visit to Guatemala also included the announcement that the U.S. would be donating half a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and other measures to aid Guatemalans.
Republicans jumped on twitter to criticize the VP, saying the White House is responsible for the migration problem.