On Monday Jun 7th, the United States stated its hopes to work with Guatemala on the root problem of illegal migration. US Vice President Kamala Harris conveyed this message on her trip to Guatemala. This is her first overseas trip since taking office.
The US wants to solve illegal migration by creating “a sense of hope” inside the violence and poverty-stricken country.
Reducing undocumented migration
Vice President Harris met President Alejandro Giammattei in Guatemala City. She said the priority for the Biden administration is to reduce undocumented migration from Central America into North America.
Harris explains that most people do not want to leave the place where they grew up. They are reluctant to leave their loved ones along with people with whom they share a language and culture.
Fleeing from harm is one main reason why people often migrate. Another main reason to migrate is if a country cannot meet the basic needs of its people, says Harris.
Not allowed to come
Vice President Harris urges those thinking of migrating illegally not to make the journey. This is even though they have good reasons to leave Guatemala. She told them not to come to the United States.
She said “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders … If you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
To find solutions to the long-standing problems, Harris proposes that the United States and Guatemala “work together”.
“A sense of hope that help is on the way” must be given to Guatemalan people says Harris.
“It must be coupled with relationships of trust. It must be coupled with tangible outcomes, in terms of what we do as leaders to convince people that there is a reason to be hopeful about their future and the future of their children.”
Young people need to find hope they do not have today. Guatemala wants to cooperate with the US to create such conditions says Giammattei.
To help Central American law enforcement prosecute cases, Harris announced the setting up of a joint task force. It will comprise of a women’s empowerment program, an anti-corruption task force, and smuggling and human trafficking.
Republicans are critical of the fact that neither Harris nor President Biden visited the US southern border. The Vice President rejects this criticism. Discussing matters in a way that are significant and have real results is the priority of Harris’s tour of Central America. Her trip to Guatemala is not to make grand gestures.
The Vice President told President Giammattei that the US would send half a million coronavirus vaccines to Guatemala.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is next on the list to meet Harris on Tuesday.
Former president Donald Trump took a hardline approach on illegal migration. The trip by Harris is part of the Biden administration’s promise to implement a more humane immigration policy.
Failing to control migration in the US southern border, has the Republican opposition accusing Biden of creating a “crisis” there.
President Biden has asked for US861 million next year as part of US$4 billion to tackle the issue. This would need approval by the US Congress.
In recent days, American officials have been calling Central American countries to defend democracy and fight corruption. Improving internal conditions at home is a driving factor in a bid to eliminate migration.
Reporters asked Giammattei on his stand on anti-corruption in the country. The President’s answer: ”How many cases of corruption have I been accused of? I can give you the answer: Zero”.
8th June 2021 23:00
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