Harris says U.S. is taking new steps to address root causes of migration from Guatemala

Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
(Image credit: Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Monday that the United States is coming up with new ways to try to combat the root causes of migration from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, including creating a task force to fight human trafficking and working with private companies to get them to invest in the region.

Harris made her remarks in Guatemala City, during her first trip abroad as vice president. Appearing at a joint press conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Harris, who is leading the Biden administration's efforts to address migration from the region, said the U.S. Treasury, State, and Justice Departments will join forces to train Guatemalan law enforcement officers and support prosecutors tackling corruption. Another priority for the U.S., she added, is to "discourage illegal migration. And I believe if you come to our border you will be turned back. Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border."

Harris said she had a "frank" and "candid" conversation with Giammattei about migration, and how people flee their homes when they don't feel safe or don't have the means to support their families. "The president and I share a firm belief that our responsibility and our capacity is to give people a sense of hope," Harris said. "Most people don't want to leave where their grandmother lives."

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The U.S. will provide additional aid to Guatemala in the form of 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines and by launching an empowerment initiative to help young women find work, Harris said.

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