Immigration Policy Brief #125

VP Kamala Harris Advises Migrants not to Come to the US in First Trip Abroad to Guatemala and Mexico

By Kathryn Baron

June 11, 2021


Policy Summary 

Earlier this week, Vice President Kamala Harris took her first trip abroad in her new position, to Guatemala and Mexico. She announced the launch of an anti-corruption task force to be established for training law enforcement, aiding prosecutors, and targeting transnational crime in Guatemala; a young women’s empowerment initiative; the promise of $130 million in aid for the remainder of Biden’s term; and lastly, that the US would donate 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses. The US will deploy homeland security officers to Guatemala’s northern and southern border to train local officials. 

In Mexico, Harris promised $130 million in technical assistance and cooperation over the next 3 years to fund programs intended to bolster labor legislation that will better support workers and working conditions, while simultaneously addressing forced and child labor. Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas is scheduled to visit Mexico June 14 to begin discussing with the Mexican government how to approach lifting pandemic-related curbs on the shared border. 


However, the most jarring takeaway from this trip was Harris’s unmistakable message telling potential migrants, “don’t come,” in her final remarks as they will likely be turned away. Many democrats, activists, and other decision-makers are calling it a major disappointment and a move that lacked humanity and compassion. Such a statement is portrayed as greatly contradicting the Biden campaign vision and commitments it made to the American people and sounds  too similar to the Trump-era stance on immigration. 

Engagement Resources 

  • The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
  • The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
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