Harris tones down 'do not come' message in interview with Spanish-language news service

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In Guatemala, Vice President Kamala Harris twice told Central American migrants, "Do not come" to the United States, stoking criticism from Democrats and immigration advocates. But the hard-line directive did not last long.

Back in Washington, Harris dialed back the message, telling EFE, a Spanish international news agency, she was "committed" to ensuring the United States is a "safe haven" for people seeking asylum.

The vice president traveled to Guatemala and Mexico this week to discuss migration from Central America with leaders of both countries, holding her first in-country talks on the issues the White House says prompt migrants to leave.

‘SHE DIDN'T PITCH A SHUTOUT': HARRIS SUPPORTERS ACKNOWLEDGE MISSTEPS BUT SAY VICE PRESIDENT ONLY PARTLY TO BLAME FOR ROCKY TRIP

In a press conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday, Harris said people should not attempt to enter the U.S. illegally.

"If you come to our border, you will be turned back," Harris said at the time. "I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border. Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border."

Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, said the pronouncement had drawn criticism from all sides.

"It was not as nuanced as it might have been," Shifter told the Washington Examiner. "Unfortunately, the trip will probably be remembered by the phrase, 'Do not come.'" He called it "infelicitous."

Harris, he said, "tried to walk it back," but it had already "angered" immigration advocates and prominent liberal lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, who said Harris’s comments were “disappointing to see.”

The Biden administration's tack "all goes back to domestic politics," he said. "Her boss is clearly very sensitive to the political pressure that there is about sending messages that encourage and stimulate more migration to the United States."

The number of people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has spiked in recent months. According to data published Wednesday by Customs and Border Protection, 180,034 people were apprehended crossing into the U.S. illegally in May, a two-decade peak.

Many of these arrivals are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, three countries known as the Northern Triangle. The Biden administration said it hopes to address the surge through security agreements, foreign aid, and private sector investments, among other endeavors.

Speaking to EFE, Harris said Washington was not "ignoring" Honduras and El Salvador, despite not visiting the countries.

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President Joe Biden tapped Harris to address the issue earlier this year.

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Tags: News, White House, Biden Administration, Kamala Harris, Border Crisis, Border

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: Harris tones down 'do not come' message in interview with Spanish-language news service

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