Vice President Kamala Harris, in Guatemala for her first journey overseas, introduced the creation of a primary of its variety anti-corruption job power to coach regulation enforcement, help prosecutors, and goal transnational crime.
She additionally introduced a younger girls’s empowerment initiative, and broke the information that the U.S. would share 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses with Guatemala as a primary donation.
The subsequent day, in Mexico for the second leg of her journey, she introduced the U.S. would make investments $130 million in help for the rest of President Biden’s time period in assist of labor protections for Mexican employees and for forensic coaching to assist discover 1000’s of lacking folks.
But it was her departing message throughout a bilateral assembly with Guatemalan President Giammattei that led to swift condemnation by Democrats and progressive activists.
While Harris mentioned she needed to emphasise that the objective is to assist Guatemalans discover hope at house, “At the same 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.”
That robust discuss reverberated by way of activist circles amongst immigration organizations, advocates, and even Hollywood surrogates who’re allies of the White House. It was shortly adopted by wave of criticism.
“It’s disappointing and shameful that these are the lead narratives that the administration is driving,” mentioned Cristina Jimenez, co-founder of immigration advocacy group United We Dream, who informally suggested the Biden marketing campaign on immigration.
She additionally accused Biden and Harris of “contradicting the vision and commitments” they made throughout the marketing campaign to handle immigration and asylum applications.
“You have Harris, who on the campaign trail accused Trump of dismantling the asylum system for people in fear of their lives fleeing violence, now telling them to not come,” she mentioned.
One member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus referred to as Harris feedback an “unnecessary distraction.”
“A mistake she made was talking about it in the context of illegal immigration and enforcing immigration law when these people are seeking asylum,” the supply mentioned. “It’s a strange argument for a Democrat to make that you shouldn’t seek asylum in the United States because the United States is going to enforce illegal immigration.”
Paola Mendoza, one of many co-founders of the Women’s March, informed Newsweek that “‘disappointing’ doesn’t even begin to encompass the feelings I have on what the vice president said to people suffering in a country with a tremendous amount of violence, domestic violence, and climate refugees.”
She then echoed actress America Ferrera—a high Latina surrogate for the Biden marketing campaign who took to Instagram to name Harris’ message “a compassion-less” and “inadequate strategy, adding “I voted and campaigned for you and I count on higher.”
“What we wish and one of many causes we elected them was to revive and create a humanitarian migration course of into the United States,” Mendoza said, also arguing that this was not why the country elected Biden and Harris.
“She is aware of higher than that,” Mendoza concluded, “the Biden administration is aware of higher than to inform folks to not come.”
Many of the largely Latina leaders and activists who spoke with Newsweek echoed progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who referred to as Harris’ feedback “disappointing” on Twitter, whereas emphasizing that migrants presenting themselves for asylum on the border is authorized within the United States, which Harris appeared to disregard.
Harris allies famous that the vp was merely echoing the messaging of Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas within the previous weeks and months outlining the administration’s method in coping with the inflow of migrants on the border.
Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson for the vp, launched a press release saying Biden and Harris have been clear in “dissuading” migrants from making the “dangerous and treacherous journey,” including “we encourage those who do want to come to the U.S. to do so legally and seek legal immigration options in their home countries.
Asked about that messaging from Harris when requesting asylum at the border is a legal way of doing so, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said “in fact it’s,” stressing that one of the administration’s priorities is to improve asylum processing at the border.
Regarding Harris’ controversial comments, Psaki said what “the vp was merely conveying is that there is extra work to be executed, that we do not have these methods in place but, it is nonetheless a harmful journey, as we have mentioned many occasions from right here and from many boards earlier than, and we’d like extra time to get the work executed to make sure that asylum processing is the place it must be.”
Astrid Silva, a well-respected Dreamer advocate from Las Vegas who worked with the Obama administration on immigration policy, tweeted about the dual reaction from the worlds she inhabits, noting that activists she was in touch with were mad at Harris over her comments, while her immigrant family thought it was a prudent message to send.
One White House ally noted the dissonance and the difficult spot the administration was in, however, with a message that when distilled could be at home in the previous administration.
“Their narrative is indistinguishable from Donald Trump,” the source said. “Secure the border, do not come right here.”
“I’d count on Stephen Miller to say one thing like this, not Kamala Harris or the Biden administration,” said Belen Sisa, former Latino press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign, who has been critical of the White House. She said she made the tough comparison because Harris did not acknowledge that seeking asylum is legal.
For many who spoke to Newsweek, Harris comments recalled a much-maligned interview Hillary Clinton had with Christiane Amanpour in 2014 regarding unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
Asked if they should be sent back, Clinton responded, “they need to be despatched again as quickly as it may be decided who accountable adults of their households are, as a result of there are considerations about whether or not all of them may be despatched again.”
Clinton went on to say they should be reunited with their families, and cited Biden as vice president at the time arguing in Central America that the U.S. must do more to deal with the violence in the region and deal with border security, an approach she agreed with because of her time as secretary of state.
Mostly, though, the deep disappointment and anger of those who spoke to Newsweek returned to a feeling that Harris was just echoing right-wing talking points, aimed at a party and voters who won’t believe she is sincere in taking a tough stance, and who will be pummeled on conservative media networks like Fox News, regardless.
“When she’s saying ‘do not come, do not come,’ nobody within the state of affairs that forces them emigrate goes to say ‘OK, I’m going to remain now,’ mentioned writer and activist Julissa Arce. “So who is she really making that speech for?”
Much like Trump used his bully pulpit with a twin technique centered on rhetoric and coverage modifications, Jimenez mentioned Democrats are lacking the purpose that their narrative technique additionally shapes the dialog on all points.
“The new programs may sound great,” she mentioned, “but you can see here that the administration is not walking the walk when talking about these issues.”
For many, Harris feedback simply did not align with “the battle for the soul of America” that they heard a lot about and signed up for throughout the marketing campaign.
“What got to me is she said it twice, ‘do not come, do not come,'” Arce mentioned.
“That tone in her voice to me felt like it was lacking compassion and lacking that humanity that she and Biden said would be part of building a humane system,” she mentioned. “They said they would do this with humanity, so where did that humanity go?”