During her remarks in Guatemala on Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris told desperate people in Central America not to come to the United States, pledging that the Biden administration will secure the border. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) seems to have taken offense at this message. AOC suggested that the U.S. cannot turn away Central American migrants because the U.S. has supported regime change in the region.
“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,” Harris said on Monday. “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border.”
“There are legal methods by which migration can and should occur. But we as one of our priorities will discourage illegal migration,” the vice president continued. “And I believe, if you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
AOC, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Harris had made a distinction between legal and illegal immigration, strained to put words in the vice president’s mouth.
“This is disappointing to see. First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100% legal method of arrival,” AOC began. (Harris did not address asylum-seekers in the clip AOC shared.)
“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,” the congresswoman continued. “It would be helpful if the US would finally acknowledge its contributions to destabilization and regime change in the region. Doing so can help us change US foreign policy, trade policy, climate policy, & carceral border policy to address causes of mass displacement & migration.”
It would be helpful if the US would finally acknowledge its contributions to destabilization and regime change in the region.
Doing so can help us change US foreign policy, trade policy, climate policy, & carceral border policy to address causes of mass displacement & migration.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 7, 2021
Harris’ remark represents a positive change of pace for the Biden administration, though it seems unlikely the administration will truly secure the border. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said Biden’s rhetoric emboldened the human traffickers on the border, known as “coyotes,” to round up kids in Guatemala and send them to the U.S. as soon as Donald Trump left office.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents have arrested 95 convicted sex offenders since October 1, 2020, a whopping 3,166 percent increase over the same timeframe last fiscal year. Biden canceled Operation Talon, a Trump administration initiative that deported illegal immigrants who had been convicted of sex crimes.
Border crossings hit record levels in April, when immigration officials detained almost 179,000 people, the highest level since the 2000s. In addition to those detained border crossers, officials have recorded at least 40,000 unlawful border crossers who got away.
Biden rushed to reverse the Trump policies that had gotten the border crisis under control. Not only did the president order an end to border wall construction, but he also ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy that required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico until their cases had been adjudicated. Biden also unilaterally dropped Trump’s “safe third country” deals with Latin American countries like Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador that enabled the U.S. to direct asylum seekers to settle in countries that were safe for them, rather than allowing them into the U.S.
If indeed the Biden administration plans to secure the border, it may have to return to the hated policies of the bad orange man. That seems rather unlikely.
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Yet even if Biden reverses course and secures the border, that will only outrage the left wing of his party, as AOC demonstrated.