Harris says talks in Guatemala were robust, tells migrants: ‘do not come’

Kamala Harris, Speaking in Guatemala, Warns Against Making 'Dangerous Trek' to U.S. Border: 'Do Not Come. Do Not Come.'

Speaking at a news conference Monday after meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Harris said the Biden administration wants "to help Guatemalans find hope at home".

Since President Joe Biden took office in January, the number of migrants taken into custody per month at the U.S. Mexico border has risen to the highest levels in 20 years. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border. She also sought to discourage further migration from the region, insisting that those who arrive at the USA border without proper documentation "will be turned back".

Harris also said a USA anti-corruption task force would work with local prosecutors to punish corrupt actors in the region.

Speaking at a news conference with Giammattei, Harris delivered a blunt message to anyone thinking of making the risky journey north: "Do not come".

The Biden administration has identified corruption as an underlying cause of the poverty and violence driving record numbers of Central Americans to go to the United States.

The U.S. will also donate 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Guatemala, Harris said.

"Most people don't want to leave where their grandmother lives", Harris said.

She said that a task force combining resources from the Justice, State and Treasury departments would work with local prosecutors to punish corrupt actors in Central America. "Do not come", she said.

"Seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival", she tweeted.

The U.S. government has been pressing the "Northern Triangle" - El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras - to do more to tackle corruption in order to improve social conditions for its people and make them less eager to emigrate.

In addition to new anti-corruption and anti-smuggling task forces, which will be led by the U.S. Department of Justice with support from the State Department, Harris announced efforts to address Guatemala's lack of stable economic opportunities - one of the top drivers of migration - that will include investments in affordable housing, agribusinesses and a Young Women's Empowerment Initiative that will focus in particular on closing significant gender gaps faced by young, primarily Indigenous women.

The group will complement the efforts to build cases against corrupt actors in the region, the statement said.

"I am against her stepping over the sovereignty of the Guatemalan...most of all to bring an anti-corruption agenda, where they protect good but corrupt people, where she has met with convicts in the United States", stated Jorge Lemus, former captain of infantry for the Guatemalan Army.

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