Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, visited Guatemala on Wednesday on what was her first official visit abroad. During a press conference held together with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei she addressed all the people who would like to leave Guatemala and other Central American countries to illegally migrate to the United States:
“I want to be clear to the people of this region that they are thinking of embarking on that perilous journey to the US-Mexico border: don’t come. You do not come”.
Harris added that “the United States will continue to enforce our laws and protect our borders,” and motivated his outright opposition to illegal migration from Central America by saying that President Joe Biden’s administration “wants to help Guatemalans to find hope at home ».
During his visit to Guatemala, Harris announced the formation of a joint task force with the Guatemalan government against corruption in the country – one of the reasons, together with the great poverty and violence of organized crime, for the high rate of emigration. He also promised financial aid and the delivery of half a million doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Harris’s visit to Guatemala was anticipated in recent months by controversy over how the Biden administration is managing migration from Central America: on the one hand, the Republicans accuse the administration of having lost control of the borders and letting too many migrants, on the other hand the more radical wing of the Democrats accuses Biden of having kept various migration policies of the Trump administration unchanged.
At the end of March, Biden assigned the management of the migration issue to Harris, thus giving her a task of high responsibility but politically very risky: with the immigration issue all the latest American administrations have clashed, without being able to find definitive solutions or at least satisfactory.
Furthermore, after the administration of Donald Trump, immigration has become one of the most polarizing political issues. For this reason Biden and Harris, despite having promised in the electoral campaign to put an end to the “moral and national shame of the previous administration”, for now are moving rather cautiously: they have kept active several of the anti-immigration measures desired by Trump (albeit with important and necessary exceptions, especially as regards the reception of minors unaccompanied by their parents) and try to discourage the arrival of new migratory flows.