Harris to Meet With Leaders of Mexico, Guatemala Next Week

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the leaders of Mexico and Guatemala next week as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to slow a surge of migration from Central America to the U.S.

Harris will spend roughly 48 hours in the region -- on her first foreign trip since taking office -- to meet with political and community leaders, entrepreneurs, and U.S. embassy officials, according to advisers to the vice president.

Her goal is “to deepen our strategic partnership and bilateral relationship with both the Guatemalan and Mexican government to advance a comprehensive strategy to tackle the causes of migration,” said Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders.

Harris was asked by President Joe Biden to lead outreach to Mexico and Northern Triangle countries -- Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador -- after the administration came under intense criticism for its handling of the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Harris to Meet With Leaders of Mexico, Guatemala Next Week

Migration from the region has been driven by economic and social disparities between Central America and the U.S. that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. From the start of the year through the end of April, more than 237,000 people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were apprehended trying to cross the southern U.S. border, according to government data.

Harris will arrive in Guatemala on June 6 and spend the following day there for a visit that will include a session with President Alejandro Giammattei. They plan to discuss “ways to increase economic opportunities in Guatemala, strengthen the rule of law and deepen bilateral law enforcement cooperation,” said Mazin Alfaqih, special adviser to Harris for the Northern Triangle.

The U.S. plans to send additional border security personnel to the region to provide training and further expand U.S. capabilities, Alfaqih said.

Harris will arrive in Mexico on the evening of June 7 for meetings with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and women entrepreneurs, and participate in a roundtable on labor. The two leaders will talk about how the U.S. and Mexico can cooperate over Northern Triangle issues and “about deepening the bilateral relationship, including on economic and security issues,” according to Hillary Quam, special adviser to Harris for the Western Hemisphere.

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