VP Harris talks of task ahead of Guatemala visit

Immigration

Vice President Kamala Harris says her “first trip,” abroad and her meeting with the president of Guatemala will be the “front leg of the trip” to discuss what we can do “to both support the folks who need help” and have “very frank and honest conversations.”

Harris was asked during a swear-in ceremony for Eric Lander as the new Office of Science and Technology Policy Director on Wednesday what she hopes to accomplish with her upcoming meeting with Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei.

“It is about what we need to do and can do together to both support the folks who need help in terms of hunger, the economic development piece, the extreme weather and the impact that has had on their economy,” she said.  

“It’s also about the need to have very frank and honest discussions about the need to address corruption, to address crime, and violence, and in particular against some of the most vulnerable populations in that country.”

Harris recently announced commitments from a dozen companies and organizations to invest in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to address the root causes of migration from the region.

The aim of the new effort is to focus aid on supporting vulnerable populations such as women and young people, and to invest in internet access, job-training programs and efforts to combat food shortages.

It’s part of Harris’ role in dealing with the root causes of migration to the United States, a task she was given by President Joe Biden in March.

Harris has had multiple calls with the presidents of Guatemala and Mexico and has held meetings with interest groups, policy experts and companies from the region.

When a reporter asked if she was hoping to hear anything specific during her meeting, Harris said, “it’s going to be an honest and real conversation, so I do — I’m there to listen as much as I’m there to share perspective.”

Harris is scheduled to make her first trip abroad as vice president to Guatemala and Mexico on June 7 and 8.

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