We already knew that Vice President Kamala Harris’ comments during a press conference in Guatemala were going to backfire. Still, Bronx Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz — also known as AOC — surprised us again with her assertiveness.
Through Twitter, Ocasio-Cortéz responded to Harris’ comments during her visit to Guatemala, where she told immigrants “don’t come,” assuring they would be sent back by immigration authorities.
“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival,” said the congresswoman. “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.”
This is disappointing to see.
First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival.
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. https://t.co/vADyh5H0bw
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 7, 2021
While the Biden administration claimed during and after the campaign that its approach to the immigration problem on the southern border would be different from that of the previous administration, actually putting a plan in place has not been so simple.
During her first trip abroad as vice president, Harris assured her administration’s fundamental goal is to “address the root causes of migration,” as she told NBC’s Lester Holt. “There may be some who think that that is not important, but it is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them.”
“We have to deal with what's happening at the border.”@VP Kamala Harris spoke exclusively with @LesterHoltNBC on her first trip overseas, how the administration is addressing the immigration crisis, and if she plans to visit the southern border herself. pic.twitter.com/sA4We7peeR
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 8, 2021
And while this goal has the financial backing of the White House, the reality is that immigrants cannot suspend their urgencies while solutions begin to become palpable.
“We continue to urge the Biden administration to build policies that recognize that many Guatemalans will need to seek protection until the longstanding drivers of forced displacement are addressed and realign its message to the Guatemalan people to reflect America’s commitment to the right to seek protection internationally,” said Rachel Schmidtke, a Latin America advocate at the non-profit Refugees International, to The Guardian.
Before leaving Guatemala for Mexico, Harris was questioned by a reporter about AOC’s comments, according to The Independent.
The vice president’s response, again, was blunt:
“I’m really clear: we have to deal with the root causes, and that is my focus,” Harris said before adding, “Period.”