Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to Central America this week to discuss the “root causes” of the United States’ immigration crisis, but her team has already decided on the “main drivers” the Vice President plans to tackle with leaders in Guatemala and Mexico: “climate change” and “the economy.”
Harris, who was placed in charge of handling the ongoing immigration crisis at the United States’ southern border nearly three months ago, has focused her efforts on Central America rather than on overcrowding or other issues dogging United States Customs and Border Protection. Sunday evening, ahead of her trip, her staff released a message claiming “that climate and the economy were among the ‘main drivers’ of the surge in migrants that saw more than 178,000 migrants hit the border in April alone, a number that continued a spike in February and March,” per Fox News.
Harris has long believed that “climate change” and “climate adaptation” are key elements of a comprehensive immigration strategy: a theory she made clear when she announced her plan to travel to Central America as part of her immigration strategy, leaving the border in the hands of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“I’m thinking of corruption, violence, and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance,” Harris said, listing her thoughts on what factors were driving a stream of asylum seekers to the southern border.
She will be taking care of the “lack of economic opportunity” issue almost immediately, giving Guatemala millions in aid — a taste of a multi-billion dollar Biden administration plan to boost economic stability in the region.
“Traveling abroad for her first time as vice president, Harris will arrive Sunday evening in Guatemala bearing gifts: pledges for hundreds of thousands of coronavirus vaccine doses, $310 million in regional humanitarian aid, and a $4 billion long-term plan to boost development and security across Central America,” The Washington Post noted Sunday night. “Those sweeteners may be used to offset what are expected to be tougher messages about battling corruption and upholding democratic norms.”
Guatemala, at least, does not plan to make Harris’ requested changes. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told reporters in an interview Sunday that he and Harris “are not on the same side of the coin,” and that is not the trouble in his country but rather the Biden administration’s more welcoming attitude toward immigrants that is driving the “surge” to the border, per Fox.
“The message changed too: ‘We’re going to reunite families, we’re going to reunite children,’” Giammattei told CBS News. “The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States.”
He says he hopes that Harris will heed his government’s request for a harder line on immigration from President Joe Biden.
“We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving,” he told CBS.