November 28, 2021

US Vice President to Bring Message of ‘Hope’ to Guatemala and Mexico | Voice of America

WASHINGTON – U.S Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Guatemala and Mexico this week, bringing a message of hope to a region hammered by COVID-19 and which is the source of most of the undocumented migrants seeking entry in the U.S.

Harris is taking her first trip abroad as President Joe Biden’s deputy with an eye towards tackling the root causes of migration from the region — one of the thorniest issues facing the White House.

“We have to give people a sense of hope, a sense of hope that help is on the way, a sense of hope that if they stay, things will get better,” Harris has said, after Biden tasked her with leading diplomatic efforts on the issue in March.

She is set to fly Sunday to Guatemala, where she will meet with President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday before setting off to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday.

Harris also has plans to meet with community, labor and business leaders, according to her team.

Harris said she hopes to have “very frank and honest discussions” about corruption, crime and violence.

Detentions of undocumented travelers, including unaccompanied minors, along the US-Mexico border hit a 15-year record high in April, with nearly 180,000 people intercepted — more than 80% of them coming from Mexico or the so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Vaccines, TPS, Title 42

Donation of coronavirus vaccines by the United States to the region is also expected to be up for discussion.

Harris already addressed the subject over the phone with Giammattei and Lopez Obrador on Thursday, just before Biden announced the shipment of a first batch of 6 million doses to be distributed in Central America and the Caribbean through the global Covax program, plus others to be sent directly from Washington to partner countries such as Mexico.

For security and democracy expert Rebecca Bill Chavez, “a real commitment” on the number of doses destined for the Northern Triangle would be “one very positive outcome” of Harris’s trip.

Another potential topic is the possibility of granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Guatemalans living in the United States, allowing them to work legally.

And there could be talk in Mexico of the end of “Title 42,” a Trump-era coronavirus policy allowing the immediate deportation of undocumented migrants — even those who arrive seeking asylum.

‘A lot tougher’

The vice president’s trip to Central America is part of the Biden administration’s promise of a more humane immigration policy — in contrast to the hardline approach taken by his predecessor Donald Trump.

But Harris faces challenges even more complicated than the ones Biden dealt with as vice president under Barack Obama, when he himself was charged with handling the same matter.

“The conditions have deteriorated dramatically since 2014,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank, referring to a worsening economic situation and an increase in violence, both exacerbated by the pandemic.

Harris’s work is therefore “a lot tougher,” Shifter said, “because the (country) partners are far more problematic.”

The relationship between Washington and El Salvador has been tense since the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly, led by the ruling party, fired judges and the attorney general May 1, and after the U.S. labeled members of President Nayib Bukele’s government as corrupt.

And Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was implicated of cocaine trafficking in a New York court earlier this year.

A group of 18 US Democratic senators wrote a letter to Harris ahead of her trip.

“Ensuring stability in Central America directly supports the national interests of the United States,” said the group, led by Foreign Relations Committee head Bob Menendez.

The Republican opposition, on the other hand, has accused Biden of creating a “crisis” on the country’s southern border.

Congress must still decide whether to approve the $861 million Biden has asked for next year as part of his $4 billion plan to take on the issue of illegal immigration.

in U.S.
Related Posts

Alaska-Bound Cruises Could Soon Resume | Voice of America

May 22, 2021

May 22, 2021

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Alaska-bound cruise ships could soon sail once again, now that U.S. lawmakers in both houses of Congress...

Exclusive: CENTCOM Head Says US Focused Only on Strikes in Afghan that Prevent Attacks on US, Allies Homeland | Voice of America

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT – The United States is not planning to support Afghan forces with air strikes after the U.S. troops...

Elsa Strengthens into Season’s 1st Hurricane in Caribbean | Voice of America

July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday as it battered...

US Forming Expert Groups on Safely Lifting Global Travel Restrictions | Voice of America

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine...

Biden Order to Ban Investment in 59 Chinese Defense, Tech Firms | Voice of America

June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will issue a new executive order on Thursday that bans U.S. entities from buying or...

New Yorkers to Cast Votes in Mayoral Primary | Voice of America

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

This Tuesday, local voters will cast their ballots in a primary election on the path to selecting the next mayor...

Senate Blocks Push for Bipartisan Commission to Investigate Capitol Breach | Voice of America

May 29, 2021

May 29, 2021

Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted Friday to block legislation that would create a panel to investigate the deadly January...

VOA Exclusive: CENTCOM Head Says US Will Not Support Afghan Forces with Airstrikes After Troop Withdrawal | Voice of America

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT – The United States is not planning to support Afghan forces with air strikes after the U.S. troops...

Blinken Urges US Allies to Keep Up Islamic State Fight | Voice of America

June 28, 2021

June 28, 2021

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged allies Monday to maintain a focus on defeating the Islamic State group, with a particular...

Coronavirus, Climate and Trade on Agenda for US-EU Summit | Voice of America

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

Battling the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as well as working together on trade and foreign affairs are on the...

Ransomware Hits Hundreds of US Companies, Security Firm Says | Voice of America

July 3, 2021

July 3, 2021

A ransomware attack paralyzed the networks of at least 200 U.S. companies Friday, according to a cybersecurity researcher whose company...

Biden Takes on Gun Violence Warning of Summer Spike  | Voice of America

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

WHITE HOUSE – U.S. President Joe Biden vowed Wednesday to reduce gun violence as he warned the nation about a dangerous...

New Study Suggests Coronavirus Was Present in US Earlier than First Believed | Voice of America

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

The novel coronavirus was present in the U.S. in December 2019, weeks before health officials first identified infections, according to...

Biden Releases First-Ever National Plan to Fight Domestic Terrorism | Voice of America

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden has released what he described as the “first-ever” national plan to combat domestic terrorism. In a...

Biden Heads to the UK and Europe on His First Trip Abroad  | Voice of America

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

President Joe Biden is heading to the United Kingdom and Europe on his first trip abroad, sending a signal that...