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Harris Tells Guatemalans, 'Don't Come,' Don't Migrate To The U.S.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Vice President Kamala Harris is in Mexico City this morning to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. This is the second leg of her trip to try to address the root causes of Central American migration to the U.S. Vice President Harris had a blunt message yesterday in Guatemala for people who may be thinking about making the trek to try to enter the U.S. as migrants.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Biden administration says it wants to stop migration by addressing poverty, violence and political corruption in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow says it's important that the Biden administration sends a strong signal to the region.

JEFFREY DAVIDOW: The double message - first she's saying to potential migrants, don't come. Secondly, she's saying, we understand why migrants want to leave their home countries. There are many factors. But in Guatemala specifically, she talked about the inefficiency of government because of endemic corruption.

MARTIN: The Biden administration wants Mexico to be part of a strategy to stop migration flows to the U.S. at their source and cooperate in the economic development in Central America, which they argue would incentivize people to stay in their home countries.

DAVIDOW: Lopez Obrador has indicated both to Trump and to President Biden that he's willing to work cooperatively on migration issues.

FADEL: Republican lawmakers are criticizing the Biden administration for focusing first on Central America and not on the current situation at the U.S. border with Mexico. And Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the U.S. needs to recognize that decades of intervention in Latin America is in part responsible for the instability that's forced people to flee.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRIOSENCE'S "OUT OF REACH") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.