Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala on Monday, telling potential migrants not to come to the United States.
“I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back,” she said, promising the Biden administration would “enforce our laws and secure our border.”
Harris urged Guatemalans to “find hope at home” and stop coming as migrants to the United States.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come,” she stated.
The Biden administration, however, has sent the opposite message to potential migrants by rolling back former President Donald Trump’s policies to reduce the number of migrants coming to the United States and claiming asylum.
Leaders of the region have blamed the shift in the Biden administration’s approach to the migration crisis for encouraging more people to travel from the region to the United States.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei blamed the Biden administration for sending the wrong message to the region and coyote smugglers.
“The message changed to, ‘We are going to reunite families and we are going to reunite children,'” he said in a Sunday interview with CBS News.
He urged the Biden administration to tell migrants that the border was closed.
“We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving,” he said.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also blamed Biden for the migrant crisis in March. Obrador said at a press conference:
Expectations were created that with the government of President Biden there would be a better treatment of migrants,” “And this has caused Central American migrants, and also from our country, wanting to cross the border thinking that it is easier to do so.
Harris, however, did not say at any point in her press conference in Guatemala that the border was closed, choosing instead to say she believed migrants would be turned away.
She rejected Republican calls for her or President Joe Biden to visit the crisis on the Southern border, arguing that visiting Guatemala was more important to address the root causes of migration.
“I will continue to be focused on that kind of work, as opposed to grand gestures,” she said to a reporter during the press conference.