Vice President Kamala Harris received pushback from within her own party after she encouraged migrants not to come to the United States illegally during her travel to Guatemala and Mexico this week to address the southern border crisis after being appointed “border czar” in March.
At a joint press conference in Guatemala City, Harris emphasized that the "goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home."
"At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making the dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border — do not come, do not come," Harris said.
The vice president assured that the U.S. will enforce laws and secure the border.
"There are legal methods by which migration can and should occur, but we, as one of our priorities, will discourage illegal migration. And I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back,” Harris continued.
"So let's discourage our friends, our neighbors, our family members from embarking on what is otherwise an extremely dangerous journey where, in large part, the only people who benefit are coyotes."
Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei told "Face The Nation" Sunday that the increased border crossings have been caused partly by the changing of administrations. He admitted that he and Harris “are not on the same side of the coin.”
"The message changed to, 'We are going to reunite families, and we are going to reunite children," Giammattei said. "The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States. We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent people from leaving."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., one of the most liberal members of Congress, tweeted that Harris’ speech was “disappointing."
"First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing."
The trip marked Harris’ first diplomatic trip to address the border, and she is yet to visit the U.S. southern border as vice president. On Tuesday, Harris met with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the populist president of Mexico who has been critical of the Biden administration’s immigration policies, USA Today reported.
Harris said the root causes of the border situation are poverty, economic instability, and Central America’s extreme weather.
The vice president's office said the U.S. will have a “multi-pronged” approach to immigration at the southern border, addressing climate change, food insecurity, violence and corruption, Fox News reported.
Harris was welcomed to Guatemala on Sunday with signs that read, “Kamala Go Home,” “Kamala Mind Your own Business,” and “Trump Won,” according to Fox News.
"We're not against Kamala Harris's diplomatic visit, but rather her interference and blackmail in return for aid," a group of 20 activists calling themselves Society In Action said in a protest with the Veterans' Association outside the Air Force of Guatemala, El Faro English reported.
Republican National Committee Hispanic Communications Director Jaime Florez criticized Harris' failure to visit the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Instead of addressing firsthand the human costs of the disastrous Biden administration border policies, Kamala is yet again ignoring the millions of Americans affected," Florez said in a statement.
"Kamala's meetings in Mexico and Guatemala are about shifting blame away from the Biden administration, not solving the crisis she and Biden created. Republicans will continue to visit and meet with the residents, law enforcement officers, and elected officials along the southern border, putting the American people and our communities first."
NBC’s Lester Holt asked Harris about whether she plans to visit the border in an interview.
“Do you have any plans to visit the border?” Holt asked her.
“At some point,” Harris said as she threw her hands into the air.
“We are going to the border. We’ve been to the border, so this whole thing about the border, we’ve been to the border. We’ve been [to] the border,” she said, referring to other Biden administration officials.
“You haven’t been to the border,” Holt responded.
“And I haven’t been to Europe,” Harris said as she laughed and appeared frustrated. “I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border … I care about what’s happening at the border.”
The surge of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico southern border in the fiscal year 2021 has surpassed the totals of every year since 2006 with four months left, according to preliminary Customs and Border Protection data seen by Axios.
The U.S. formally ended the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy last week, which required Central American asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico and wait for their asylum cases to be adjudicated in the U.S., Reuters reported.
The Biden administration reversed many of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including halting border wall construction, on day one.
U.S. Border Control apprehensions at the southwestern border reached the highest monthly level in the last two decades between March and April of this year.
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com