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World Harris focuses on migration as she takes 1st foreign trip to Guatemala, Mexico

15:50  06 june  2021
15:50  06 june  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Who is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president who met with Kamala Harris today?

  Who is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Mexican president who met with Kamala Harris today? Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador meets with Harris Tuesday as she leads efforts to stem illegal immigration at the southern border.The Vice President met with community organizers, business owners and Presidents Alejandro Giammattei and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leaders of Guatemala and Mexico, respectively. In March, President Joe Biden tasked Harris with addressing an increase in migration  — including unaccompanied minors  — at the southern border.

Vice President Kamala Harris embarks on her first foreign trip since taking office Sunday, heading south of the U.S. border to lead the administration’s efforts to stem the flow of migration from Central America.

Her trip -- to Guatemala and Mexico -- is part of a two-track approach to the issue, senior administration officials have said, of "stemming the flow" in the near term and establishing a "strategic partnership" with Mexico and Northern Triangle countries "to enhance prosperity, combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law" in the longer term.

President Joe Biden assigned Harris to spearhead the effort in March when a record-breaking number of unaccompanied minors were crossing the southern border.

Harris turns focus to Mexico on trip to address migration

  Harris turns focus to Mexico on trip to address migration MEXICO CITY (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is closing out her first foreign trip Tuesday with a visit to Mexico and a meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a key but complicated ally in the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the spike in migration at the U.S. border. While Lopez Obrador committed in a previous virtual meeting with Harris that the U.S. can “count on us” to help address the issue of irregular migration, the Mexican president has in the past blamed President Joe Biden for the increase in migration at the border. And he was chummy with his predecessor, President Donald Trump, despite Trump’s hardline polcies towards migrants.

At the time, Biden called Harris "the most qualified" person to tackle the issue, with the role representing the first significant item in her portfolio.

Harris will hold bilateral meetings with President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during her trip to each country.

a person holding a glass of wine: President Joe Biden speaking during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 24, 2021. Biden announced that Harris will be leading the White House efforts to handle the crisis at the border. © Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE President Joe Biden speaking during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 24, 2021. Biden announced that Harris will be leading the White House efforts to handle the crisis at the border.

It will be the first face-to-face meetings between Harris and each leader, though Harris has held virtual meetings with both of them.

Harris visits Latin America to tackle migration, corruption

  Harris visits Latin America to tackle migration, corruption WASHINGTON (AP) — Kamala Harris, on her first foreign trip as vice president, is looking to deepen diplomatic ties with Guatemala and Mexico, two Latin American nations key to the Biden administration's efforts to stem the spike in migration at the U.S. border. Harris, who is set to depart Washington later Sunday, is seeking to secure commitments for greater cooperation on border security and economic investment, but corruption in the region — a far more intractable challenge — will complicate her efforts. It’s already had a significant impact on her work in the region.

"The vice president's strategy is built around catalyzing efforts across the United States government, regional governments as well, as well as private sector and philanthropic sectors and international partners," Harris' chief spokesperson Symone Sanders told reporters. "We have three key focuses we will lay out: economic development, climate and food insecurity, and women and young people."

Kamala Harris holding a sign © Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

Harris arrives in Guatemala Sunday night and official business kicks off Monday. Along with her bilateral meeting, Harris is also expected to meet with Guatemalan community leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as greet and thank the U.S. embassy staff.

MORE: Scared and hungry: Young boys cross the border alone

During her meeting with President Giammattei, Harris will "discuss ways to increase economic opportunities in Guatemala, strengthen rule of law and deepen bilateral law enforcement cooperation," according to Mazin Alfaqih, special adviser to the vice president for the Northern Triangle.

Mexico president appears to hold key majority in elections

  Mexico president appears to hold key majority in elections President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party and allies seemed poised to keep a majority in Mexico’s lower chamber of congress in initial results.López Obrador’s Morena party will have to rely on votes from its allies in the Workers Party and Green Party, but together they were expected to capture between 265 and 292 seats in the 500-seat lower house. Morena alone was expected to win 190 to 203 seats, according to preliminary vote counts.

Harris will depart Guatemala Monday evening for Mexico and she is expected to participate in a conversation with female entrepreneurs, as well as in a labor roundtable.

The vice president is slated to discuss how "the United States and Mexico can cooperate to bolster efforts in the Northern Triangle, and they will also talk about deepening the bilateral relationship, including on economic insecurity issues," with President Lopez Obrador, according to Hillary Quam, special adviser to the vice president for the Western Hemisphere.

The politically fraught situation at the border has plagued multiple administrations, and Harris stepped into the role as the Biden administration struggles to balance its message that the U.S.-Mexico border is "closed" with its stated desire to find safe places for unaccompanied minors.

When presenting her the job, the president said the issue would not be Harris' responsibility alone but that she would speak and act on his behalf. Some in the GOP, however, have tried to tie her to what they've characterized as a "crisis."

Harris targets corruption, immigration on Latin America trip

  Harris targets corruption, immigration on Latin America trip GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — With Kamala Harris visiting Guatemala and Mexico on her first foreign trip as vice president, the Biden administration is expected to announce new measures to fight smuggling and trafficking, and hopes to announce additional anti-corruption efforts as well on Monday, a senior administration official said. The official, who briefed reporters traveling with Harris on Sunday, spoke on condition of anonymity to preview announcements before they have been made public. No further details were provided. Harris has been tasked by President Joe Biden with addressing the root causes of the spike in migration to the U.S.

For example, when the vice president planned to visit Wisconsin to tout Biden's infrastructure plan in May, the state's controversial GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, who is up for reelection in 2022, said in a statement that she was welcome, "but she really ought to inspect the crisis President Biden created at the border."

New commitments have already been made ahead of Harris’ meetings. Guatemala has agreed to increase the number of border security personnel and the U.S. has committed $310 million in funds to provide humanitarian relief to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

"We will increase the number of U.S. border security officials in the regions to provide training and other capacity building in the region," Alfaqih told reporters when asked if the U.S. would also scale up support.

Kamala Harris et al. sitting at a table using a laptop: Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a meeting in the Vice President's Ceremonial Office in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2021. Harris will travel to Guatemala and Mexico after pledging humanitarian aid for Northern Triangle countries. © Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a meeting in the Vice President's Ceremonial Office in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2021. Harris will travel to Guatemala and Mexico after pledging humanitarian aid for Northern Triangle countries.

Advisers said that cooperation on combating the COVID-19 pandemic would be on the table during Harris' meetings but did not share specifics about what the conversations would focus on.

Mexico has already received 1 million COVID-19 vaccines from the U.S. and Guatemala is among the other nations across the globe expecting millions of doses to assist in curbing the spread of the deadly virus in the "next several weeks," according to administration officials who detailed the rollout on Thursday.

MORE: Guatemala's president calls for US to help 'build a wall of prosperity'

Harris has acknowledged that curbing the flow of migration is a "challenging situation" and has since engaged with foreign officials and leaders in the private sector to address the issue.

Last week, the vice president announced a new agreement with 12 companies including Mastercard, Microsoft, Nespresso and Chobani, to invest in the Northern Triangle and support economic opportunities.

The "Call to Action" initiative will look to create new commitments in six focus areas with an emphasis on supporting vulnerable populations, including women and youth.

ABC News' Molly Nagle, Ben Gittleson and Trish Turner contributed to this report

Guatemala is Kamala Harris' first stop on her trip to talk migration. Why is that nation an important player? .
Over the past several months, Vice President Kamala Harris has worked closely with Guatemala and Mexico to address the root causes of migration.The Biden administration is set to unveil migrant smuggling and human trafficking actions with the aim of announcing additional anti-corruption measures, a senior administration official who briefed reporters traveling with Harris on the condition of anonymity.

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