Admittedly, it was too much to ask for a new U.S. administration to be radically opposed to what we experienced during the past four years. But even in the most optimistic postures, Vice President Kamala Harris‘ words to undocumented immigrants in Guatemala sounded like scratches on a blackboard.
As reported by The New York Times, Harris said the U.S. would strengthen investigations into corruption and human trafficking in Guatemala while delivering a clear and forceful message to undocumented immigrants: “Do not come.”
“The goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home,” Harris said in a press conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
“At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come,” she added. “I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
The Biden administration was thus assuming a diplomatic posture not unlike what we have seen before — even if the diplomatic language seems to sugarcoat things.
While it is true that Biden has attempted to make good on his campaign promises by removing some of the Trump administration’s border restrictions and allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for asylum when crossing the border, Harris assured that most of those who choose to do so will be turned away and must seek legal avenues or protection closer to their home countries, the Times continued.
“We will look to root out corruption wherever it exists,” Harris said, nodding at the corruption crisis in Guatemala under President Giammattei. “That has been one of our highest priorities in terms of the focus we have put here after the president asked me to take on this issue of focusing on this region.”
Now, objectively, Biden did launch a proposed $48 million investment in entrepreneurship programs, affordable housing, and agricultural enterprises in Guatemala as part of a four-year plan. The concern, undoubtedly, is to ensure that the money reaches its goal and does not get diverted along the way.
Meanwhile, the sign at the gateway to the southern U.S. border remains the same.