Kamala Harris promised investments to correct violence and poverty in Mexico, within the framework of a cooperation agreement to curb migration from Central America to the US In 2021, the number of irregular migrants detained at the southern US border it was the highest since 2000. This scenario led to Harris’s first official trip abroad to Mexico and Guatemala, where he asked Central Americans “not to come” to the United States.
The vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, reached several points of agreement with the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on migration matters. Harris and López Obrador established a plan to address the “root causes” that force people to displace their territories in Central America.
Both leaders testified the signing of a memorandum that includes the expansion of the Mexican projects Sembrando Vida (offering a public income to the inhabitants of rural areas in exchange for planting and caring for trees) and the Young Building the Future scholarship. After sealing the memorandum at the National Palace of Mexico, Harris and López Obrador held private meetings in which they addressed issues of “vaccines, pandemics, and migration,” the US vice president told the press.
The starting point of the talks was a “mutual interest in security and economy,” said Harris, in charge of the so-called “migration crisis” in the United States. The president described the discussion as “very important and productive” and assured that the relationship between the United States and Mexico enters “a new era.”
Washington promises investments to solve the root problems that generate forced migration from Central America
The leaders addressed not only the issues that affect the two bordering countries, but also the so-called Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Since many people fleeing violence and poverty in these territories transit through Mexico with the aim of reaching the United States.
Among the agreed commitments, highlights an investment plan of 250 million dollars that Washington promises to attract to southern Mexico, “by strengthening rural value chains such as cocoa, coffee and ecotourism,” Harris explained in statements collected. by the EFE agency. The United States will also develop a housing and infrastructure plan in the south of the neighboring country, he said, as well as a loan and credit plan with the aim of “creating jobs and reducing inequality.”
The two countries also agreed to “work together to reduce homicides and drug-related deaths” and “exchange information” to curb human trafficking.
Another investment promised by Washington in Mexico is $ 130 million destined to promote “technical assistance and cooperation during the next three years” to guarantee labor rights and freedom of association as a result of the Mexican labor reform of 2019.
According to the EFE agency, the new Mexican labor code was a requirement of the Democratic Party of the United States as a condition for the approval of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (T-MEC). The White House hopes that improved economic conditions will curb the need for many Mexicans to migrate in search of better social opportunities.
On the other hand, the US vice president promised help in training for the search and identification of missing persons, a figure that reaches 82,000 according to Mexican authorities.
Harris spoke of the concerns shared by both governments, putting drug and human trafficking in the same bag. A dialectical logic, also used by European governments, based on the objectification of migrants by attributing to them the status of victims of “people’s mafias” instead of recognizing their willingness to move by any means. Once the legal ones are closed, the illegal ones are the only alternative for the majority.
“Do not come to the US”: statements by Harris that raise criticism within the Democratic Party
In the United States, as well as in Europe, rhetoric is one of the pillars of current immigration policy. Dehumanization and the label of threat, made visible with the militarization of borders, are preconditions for legitimizing the violence that border policy implies.
The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports that in April 178,120 people in an irregular administrative situation were detained on the southern border of the country, a figure that had not been reached since 2000. A situation that Washington intends to stop. President Biden commissioned Harris to manage the response to the so-called “migration crisis” and the vice president has visited her neighbors in Central America on her first official trip abroad.
The strategy is, abroad, to invest to correct poverty and violence in the territories from which people migrate and to transfer immigration control to Mexico, which this year has already stopped 90,000 people who were going to the United States, according to international agencies. In the interior, deport people in an irregular administrative situation and militarize the southern border of the country. Asked by the press, Harris assured that he will visit the border area during his tenure, but that this trip to Guatemala and Mexico was aimed at dealing with the “root” issues that generate forced migration.
Without mentioning freedom of movement, and despite the fact that correcting the structural causes that generate massive forcibly displaced persons can take decades, Harris was very clear when expressing Washington’s current position: “Don’t come,” he exclaimed in Guatemala, the previous stop to Mexico. The one who was celebrated as the first black woman to serve as the vice-presidency of the world’s leading power asked the audience to discourage family and friends from undertaking such a “dangerous” journey because in the United States they would be rejected.
The statements drew criticism even from members of the Democratic Party. Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez called the speech “sad” to hear and recalled that the United States has continually destabilized the region. “We can’t set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for running away,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
This is disappointing to see.
First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival.
Second, the US spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can’t help set someone’s house on fire and then blame them for fleeing. https://t.co/vADyh5H0bw
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 7, 2021
The White House alleged that Washington is working on legal channels to allow immigration to the country.
With Reuters, EFE and AP