In Central America today with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Vice President Harris had a direct message to migrants considering coming to the U.S./Mexico border: “Do not come. Do not come.”
The Vice President announced several steps the Biden administration would be taking to curb illegal migration from Guatemalans to the U.S., including new task forces on human trafficking and anti-corruption efforts.
Harris said the U.S. Treasury, State and Justice Departments would work together to train local law enforcement and support Guatemalan prosecutors in anti-corruption efforts.
She also had the most direct warning yet to prospective travelers.
“As one of our priorities, we will discourage illegal migration. And I believe if you come to our border you will be turned back,” she said. “So, let’s discourage our friends, our neighbors, our family members from embarking on what is otherwise an extremely dangerous journey, where in large part the only people who benefit are coyotes.”
As the press questioned both Harris and Giammattei, the Guatemalan president pushed back on reporters’ questions about corruption accusations against him and insisted that his nation’s judiciary was independent from political influences.
“The social networks carry misinformation,” Giammattei said. “How many cases of corruption have I been accused [of]? Zero.”
Policy experts in the region have warned of the limitations of financial aid to Guatemala and insist the focus should be on government corruption which affects everything from human trafficking to economic conditions.
Harris described the meeting as “frank” and “candida,” and that the leaders did not have time to gloss over concerns about government and corporate corruption in the country.
Harris also announced the U.S. would provide 500,000 coronavirus vaccines to Guatemala.