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What Can We Expect From VP Kamala Harris’ Visit To Guatemala And Mexico

On Monday, Vice President Harris departed on a high-stakes trip to Guatemala and Mexico after being tasked by President Biden to lead the administration’s efforts on immigration. Her trip has already generated several major headlines as she’s being called out by the left – including Rep. Ocasio-Cortez – for telling migrants and refugees (many of whom are fleeing violence and poverty) not to come to the United States.

Now, as she arrives in Mexico, the VP is looking to focus on supporting women and youth in the country while building upon the ‘long-standing partnership’ between the U.S. and Mexico. But what can we realistically expect out of the Vice President’s first trip abroad? And will it affect the flow of migrants and refugees into the U.S.?

Vice President Harris is visiting Guatemala and Mexico on her first trip abroad as VP.

Speaking during her first trip overseas as Vice President, Harris told would-be migrants to the U.S. not to try to enter the United States illegally. She added at the trip was dangerous and mainly benefits the human trafficking industry. And she warned people they would be turned back at the border.

In a news conference alongside Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Harris said: “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders.”

However, the message likely fell on deaf ears as most migrants and refugees are well aware of the risks in traveling to the U.S. But they continue to do so out of desperation for a better life, hoping to flee from raging violence, extreme poverty, and living in constant fear.

The Vice President also added that the U.S. would be sending half a million Coronavirus vaccines to Guatemala along with $26 million to help fight the pandemic. During her visit to the country, she also met with politicians and entrepreneurs before leaving for Mexico, where she is meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

VP Harris is meeting with Mexico’s AMLO – a vocal critic of the administration’s immigration policies.

Although Harris told reporters Monday night the U.S. has “a longstanding partnership” with Mexico, the two countries are at a difficult point in bilateral relations. VP Harris and President AMLO have spoken several times in recent weeks, including a virtual meeting with him in early May, as she works to get new commitments from him on stemming the flow of migrants through Mexican territory to the U.S.

Mexico’s AMLO has started to embrace Biden’s administration but the two got off to a rocky start. The Mexican president was one of the last foreign leaders to congratulate Biden on winning the 2020 election, after having developed a friendship with former President Trump. He’s also blamed U.S. policy under Biden for the increase in migrants traveling to the U.S.

In Mexico, Harris is also focusing on issues affecting women and young people.

During her time in Mexico, the Vice President will also discuss issues affecting vulnerable populations, namely women and children. Among the issues that plague the most vulnerable in Mexico, are low-wages and crime. Both issues are especially prominent in along Mexico’s northern border with the U.S.

Sen. Clemente Castañeda, national coordinator for Mexico’s Movimiento Ciudadano political party, told USA TODAY he thinks Harris faces a “big challenge” in trying to persuade AMLO to commit to U.S. priorities like anti-corruption, human rights protections and empowering women. 

“These are not priorities of the current government,” said Castañeda, who spoke to USA TODAY from Guanajuato a day after his party’s candidate for mayor of Moroleón was killed on May 25.

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