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4 important things to know about Kamala Harris’ visit to Guatemala

The VP’s first trip abroad has sent a strong message about migration

Vice President Kamala Harris talks to the press gathered under the wing of Air Force Two.
Vice President Kamala Harris talks to the press gathered under the wing of Air Force Two as she prepares to depart for Mexico, from Guatemala’s Air Force Central Command, Monday, June 7, 2021.
Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

Vice President Kamala Harris is midway into her first trip abroad. Tuesday in Guatemala City, Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, civil society leaders and young entrepreneurs, reported the Deseret News.

Here are four important things to know from Harris’ visit to Guatemala:

1. Harris told migrants: ‘Do not come’

In a press conference, Harris sent a strong message about immigration, saying: “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders,” reported BBC.

  • “If you come to our border, you will be turned back,” she also said per BBC.

Rather, Harris wanted Guatemalans to “find hope at home,” reported The Associated Press. She also stressed the importance of migrants using legal paths for entry, said The New York Times.

2. The Guatemalan president blamed Biden for the border crisis

On Sunday, President Giammattei blamed the Biden administration for the worsening border crisis, said The New York Post.

  • “We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving,” Giammattei said per The New York Post.

Harris sent that clear message Monday, reported Fox News.

3. Corruption is a serious challenge and a serious priority

Corruption and lack of economic opportunities have emerged as key drivers of migration that Harris aims to address, BBC reported.

  • “We will look to root out corruption wherever it exists,” Harris said via The New York Times.

Harris announced a new task force from the State and Justice Departments that will investigate corruption cases linked to Guatemala and the U.S. while also training Guatemalan prosecutors to improve investigations, The New York Times reported.

  • In “very frank and very candid” conversation with Giammattei — who faces allegations of corruption — Harris said they discussed “the importance of anti-corruption and the importance of an independent judiciary,” per the AP.

4. The U.S. will invest in Guatemalan economic development

Harris also announced $48 million of U.S. investment into Guatemalan entrepreneurship programs, affordable housing and agriculture businesses, said The New York Times.

  • This is part of a four-year, $4 billion plan to invest in the region, reported The New York Times.

The U.S. will also open a new center in Guatemala for individuals to get information on obtaining asylum or refugee status, The New York Times said.

Wednesday, Harris will meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador as well as Mexican civil society leaders and entrepreneurs in Mexico City, reported the Deseret News.