Vice President Kamala Harris said she plans to visit Guatemala in June, as she conducted a virtual immigration-focused meeting with the country’s president Alejandro Giammattei on Monday.
“I believe that the work in order to be successful will require everyone’s participation and I do believe also it will require political will and hard work to accomplish our goals, but I am confident that we can make progress and create a sense of hope for the future,” Harris said during the meeting. “I look forward to traveling to Guatemala and meeting with you in person, and currently our plan is to come there in the month of June.”
Harris is expected then to make a trip to the so-called Northern Triangle region, which also includes El Salvador and Honduras.
She noted that the U.S. is building a comprehensive strategy to take on immigration issues in cooperation with allies around the world, domestic institutions, community organizations and the private sector.
Harris said she will speak with Guatemala community leaders Tuesday.
The vice president was asked to take the lead on combating the “root causes” of illegal immigration in the countries where it originates, tapped for the role at the end of March as the number of migrants looking to cross the U.S. border surges.
She has been criticized for failing to visit the U.S. border since her appointment.
On Monday, Harris identified several acute causes of migration from Guatemala, including recent hurricanes, persistent drought, and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic in the former category.
Root causes include poverty and the resulting lack of economic opportunities, corruption and the absence of good governance, and violence against women, the LGBTQ community and Afro-descendants.