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GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the Guatemalan bilateral meeting on June 7, warning potential migrants to “not come.” 

Before the meeting, Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei and Harris shared a few words before the press, stating that the purpose of the meeting was to join efforts in eliminating the problems would-be migrants face in their home country. 

“Most people do not want to leave the place where they grew up; their grandmother; the place where they pray; the place where they — their language is spoken, where the culture is familiar,” said Harris

“And when they do leave, it usually has to do with one or two reasons: either because they are fleeing some harm or because they simply cannot satisfy their basic needs by staying at home.” 

The trip was intended to tactfully promote collaboration between nations while discouraging migrants from turning up to the U.S.- Mexico border. “Do not come,” said Harris later in the evening. “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border… And I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back.” 

The language used by the vice president has received responses from some on the left. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said in a twitter statement that it was “disappointing to see,” reminding her followers that seeking asylum is a perfectly legal way to arrive at the U.S. border. 

Activist Jeffrey Ballinger, founder of Press for Change and former Massacusetes candidate for the House of Representatives, feels similarly. He told Scriberr News the vice president’s words were ‘distressing,’ especially to children of immigrants. 

When asked what might have been a more effective way of broaching the subject, he said if the intention of the trip was to ‘foster hope,’ it could have better been done with the assistance of HR director Samantha Powers. 

“The U.S. The Agency for International Development has been active in Guatemala for decades… and has proven that you can give people hope that they don’t have to flee. I think the main cause for most people coming north is economic opportunity,” Ballinger told Scriberr News.  

“I just think they could have made a better case instead of, you know, kind of chastising the Guatemalan government for corruption (which I’m all for by the way,) but it can’t stop there…It should be…a positive message.” 

Mano DeAyala of The Hispanic Republicans of Texas feels Harris’ words were unclear at best and detrimental at worst. When asked whether or not her words would serve as a deterrent, the chairman answered in the negative. 

“Real border security would be a good first step coupled with the US/Mexico remain in place policy,” said DeAyala to Scriberr. “As recent elections and public opinion research shows, Hispanics, especially in Texas, are turning away from these policies and supporting strong borders and sound immigration policy.  It’s unfortunate that we have an administration that is turning a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis on the border.”

Written ByCynthia Zelaya

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