Harris says talks in Guatemala were robust, tells migrants: ‘do not come’

  • Harris says talks in Guatemala were robust, tells migrants: ‘do not come’

Harris says talks in Guatemala were robust, tells migrants: ‘do not come’

Speaking at a news conference Monday after meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Harris said the Biden administration wants "to help Guatemalans find hope at home".

"Most people don't want to leave where their grandmother lives", Harris said.

Harris departed the White House on Sunday for a trip to Guatemala and Mexico, and in both countries is expected to discuss with top officials the Biden administration's economic and anti-corruption efforts in the region which are aimed at addressing the root causes of migration.

Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday, who said he and Harris are not on the same side of the coin on the migration issue.

Asked about Giammattei's record on corruption, and why she believes he can be trusted as a partner on this issue, Harris managed to skirt the question, stating simply that the Biden administration's stance is "unambiguous: We will root out corruption wherever we can".

The U.S. government has been pressing the "Northern Triangle" - El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras - to do more to tackle corruption in order to improve social conditions for its people and make them less eager to emigrate.

The Biden administration is under ongoing political pressure to stem the tide of migrants at the U.S. southern border, and Harris is facing the first major diplomatic test of her vice presidency.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the Joint Task Force Alpha would marshal Justice Department and Homeland Security resources against "the most prolific and dangerous" human smuggling and trafficking groups in the region, according to a statement.

Giammattei has also faced heightened criticism, including from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, about his own government's challenges to existing anti-corruption efforts, such as those pursued by one of the region's chief prosecutors, whom Giammattei has accused of having a left-wing agenda. "What fight against corruption is she talking about?" She confirmed that the United States would supply half a million COVID-19 doses to Guatemala.