On her first trip abroad as Vice President, Kamala Harris will travel to Guatemala and Mexico, where she will meet this week with foreign leaders, community organizers and entrepreneurs in hopes of forging partnerships for help stop migration to the United States by addressing its root cause.
It’s a tall order for Harris, whose portfolio was expanded earlier this week when President Joe Biden elected her to lead the administration’s efforts to protect voting rights as several states led by the Republicans are taking action to restrict access to the ticket.
The two-day excursion will test Harris’ diplomatic and negotiating skills as she seeks to resolve a politically tense issue that has rocked several administrations and further divided Republicans and Democrats.
Harris has largely adapted a strategy Biden used when he held a similar role as vice president to former President Barack Obama: working with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and the United States. Honduras to fight against poverty, violence and corruption. and the lack of economic opportunities. and other conditions that force hundreds of thousands of migrants to leave their homes to seek refuge in the United States.
While the issues run deep in countries, experts say the vice president has an opportunity to deepen relations with Guatemala and Mexico by proposing policy changes that could help cope with a record increase in migrants at the southern border of the United States. These proposals include improving anti-corruption initiatives, providing aid and partnerships with non-governmental organizations, and assisting Central American countries battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador expressed support for the Biden administration’s approach in virtual meetings with Harris earlier this year, but the contours of those deals are still taking shape.
Ariel Ruiz Soto, a political analyst at the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute, said that while he does not expect any major commitments or agreements, the trip sets a new tone and serves as a symbolic gesture that the United States change the priorities for solutions. long term in the United States. the region after four years of aid cuts by former President Donald Trump.
Vice President Kamala Harris said her first trip abroad and meeting with the Guatemalan President will be the first stop on the trip to discuss what we can do to support those in need of help and have problems. very frank and honest conversations. (June 2)
The visit really aims to consolidate not only the commitments of these countries, but also concrete elements that could be used in the future to hold these countries to account and also to give a little more sustainability to civil society organizations. in Guatemala. that they have had for so long. sought an additional opening to be more in the picture, she said.
For Harris, the trip also helps polish his credibility in the region and gives him a direct line to the governments of Central America and Mexico should the agreements fail, Ruiz added.
I think we are going beyond commitments to action and towards a more specific and shared experience in the region, she added, but it is difficult to say how much the Presidents of Mexico and Guatemala will be. receptive to it.
Harris senior spokesperson Symone Sanders told reporters on Tuesday that the vice president’s strategy is based on catalyzing efforts across the United States government, regional governments, as well as the private sector and sectors. philanthropists and international partners.
Discussions will focus on economic development, climate and food insecurity and support for women and youth, she said.