United States Vice President Kamala Harris urges migrants ‘do not come to the US as
border crossings hit a 21-year high.
Kamala Harris said on Monday she had held “robust” talks with Alejandro Giammattei,
the Guatemalan president, on fighting corruption to deter immigration from Central
America and bluntly warned migrants to not come to the United States.
Since Joe Biden took office in January, the number of migrants taken into custody per
month at the US-Mexico border has risen to the highest levels in 20 years.
“Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and
secure our borders,” Ms. Harris said at a news conference alongside Mr. Giammattei. “If
you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
Ms Harris also said a US anti-corruption task force would work with local prosecutors
to punish corrupt actors in the region.
The Biden administration has identified corruption as an underlying cause of the poverty
and violence driving record numbers of Central Americans to go to the United States.
The corruption task force has been previously floated, but Ms. Harris gave more details,
saying it will combine resources from the Justice, State, and Treasury departments.
In the build-up to Ms. Harris’s visit to Guatemala, her first official overseas trip,
differences of opinion emerged about the fight against graft, with corruption fighters
feted by Washington being criticized by Mr. Giammattei.
“We had a robust, candid, and thorough conversation,” Ms. Harris said at the news
conference after a three-hour meeting with Mr Giammattei, who said they had discussed
US concerns about developments in Guatemala.
“The president and I discussed the importance of anti-corruption and the importance of
an independent judiciary.”
Mr. Giammattei defended his own record in fighting malfeasance, saying he had not been
accused of wrongdoing and graft was not only a problem faced by politicians. The fight
against drug trafficking needed to be an integral part of tackling corruption, he said.
On the immigration front, he announced a new processing center for migrants sent back
from Mexico and the United States, which could increase capacity. He said the focus of
the two countries should be on creating prosperity.
Ms. Harris, a Democratic former US senator from California, responded to Republican
criticism against her for not visiting the US-Mexico border and the administration for
ignoring what they say is a crisis there. She said she was working on the ground in
“I’m just focused on that kind of work as opposed to grand gestures,” she said.