Harris Claims 'Climate' Causing Migrant Crisis as Guatemala President Blames Biden
'Main drivers' of migrant surge to southern border are climate and the economy, VP claims
During her visit to Guatemala, Kamala Harris has claimed that the "main drivers" of the migrant crisis at the U.S. southern border are "climate" and "the economy."
The claims from the Harris camp emerged as she arrived in Guatemala on Sunday, shortly after the Guatemalan president blamed Joe Biden's anti-Trump policies for the migrant crisis.
Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders attempted to pass the buck by telling reporters that climate and the economy caused a surge that saw over 178,000 migrants flood the U.S. border in April alone.
The number was a continuation of a spike that soared February and March after Biden was sworn into office on January 20th.
White House officials also suggested that corruption is playing in forcing migrants to leave their homes to make the journey north to Biden's America.
"We see corruption as one of the most important root causes to be dealt with," special envoy Richard Zuniga claimed.
Critics have blamed the Biden administration’s rollback of Trump-era border restrictions and interior enforcement policies that they say have sent the signal to migrants that the border is open.
The Biden administration has denied that, saying that the border is closed.
Instead, it has emphasized the "root causes" of the crisis – focusing on climate, poverty, crime, and corruption in Central America.
Harris, who was put in charge of diplomatic outreach to solve the crisis in March, has also emphasized the "root causes."
"I’m thinking of corruption, violence and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance," she said last month.
Harris is in Guatemala as part of a two-day trip to the region.
On Monday, she will meet with President Alejandro Giammattei, with whom her office says she will discuss increasing economic opportunities and strengthening the rule of law, and deeper bilateral law enforcement cooperation, among other issues.
After that meeting and others with community leaders and business owners, she will travel to Mexico.
But, in an interview aired Sunday, Giammattei said he and Harris "are not on the same side of the coin" on the issue, and blamed what he saw as a more welcoming message to migrants by the new administration for the surge.
"The message changed too: ‘We’re going to reunite families, we’re going to reunite children,’" he told CBS News.
"The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States."
"We asked the United States government to send more of a clear message to prevent more people from leaving," he said.
Harris has come under criticism in the U.S. as well, specifically for not having visited the border since being appointed to her role in dealing with the migration crisis – something critics say is vital for her to know how to tackle the crisis.