VP Harris Announces Three New Plans 'To Help Guatemalans Find Hope at Home'

By Susan Jones | June 8, 2021 | 7:11am EDT
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a press conference on June 7, 2021 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. (Photo by Josue Decavele/Getty Images)
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a press conference on June 7, 2021 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. (Photo by Josue Decavele/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Vice President Kamala Harris, in Guatemala to discuss the "root causes" of illegal immigration, announced three new initiatives to stop the flow of humanity to the United States -- eventually.

"And I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home," Harris said.

"At the same time, 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. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border. There are legal methods by which migration can and should occur, but we, as one of our priorities, will discourage illegal migration. And I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back."

"So let’s discourage our friends, our neighbors, our family members from embarking on what is otherwise an extremely dangerous journey, where in large part, the only people who benefit are coyotes."

Harris described her talks with the Guatemalan president as "robust, candid, and...thorough."

"The President and I discussed a fundamental belief that most people don’t want to leave home. They don’t want to leave the place where they grew up, where the language they know is spoken, where their culture that they know is present and has been, in this case, for centuries. Most people don’t want to leave where their grandmother lives and when they do, it is usually for one of two reasons -- because they are fleeing some type of harm or because to stay means that they cannot provide for their essential needs and the needs of their family.

"The President and I share a firm belief that our responsibility and our capacity is to give people a sense of hope."

Harris outlined three agreements that she said "will strengthen the security and prosperity" of Guatemalans and U.S. citizens:

1. "First, on the issue of security, it is probably one of the highest priorities for each of our nations. The President and I agreed to continue our work to manage migration at Guatemala’s Northern and Southern borders. We also discussed illicit drugs that are being smuggled and humans who are being trafficked across those borders, undermining the security of both the people of Guatemala and the people of the United States. Our nations have collaborated on these issues, and we will create a smuggling and human trafficking task force which will work with local law enforcement to stop these crimes."

2. "We will launch a young women’s empowerment initiative to increase education and economic opportunities for girls and women. Understanding here in Guatemala, there is a rich tradition of girls and women being a part of the culture and the economy. We will also invest in agribusiness and affordable housing and supporting entrepreneurs. President Giammattei has mentioned to me many times today and in previous conversations about his priority around what can happen in terms of the planting of trees and what that can mean in terms of ecology and our environment. Well, recently there’s been a lot of talk about ecopreneurs, entrepreneurs who are focused on climate, who are focused on what might happen, which is to protect our environment, but also see the capacity for jobs and economic development as a connection with that pursuit. I will also continue to work with CEOs around the world to encourage investment in Guatemala."

3. "Which brings me to our third area of discussion and agreement. The President and I discussed the importance of anti-corruption and the importance of an independent judiciary. The United States will create an anti-corruption task force, the first of its kind. Our Justice Department, our Treasury Department and our State Department will work together to conduct investigations and train local law enforcement to conduct their own. Our task force will support Guatemalan prosecutors...Corruption does not know borders, and we want to make sure that this is about transnational crime and we have to follow the money and we have to stop it. And that’s what we intend to do."

Harris said she believes the three task forces she outlined "will improve the lives of Guatemalans."

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