Vice President Kamala Harris and her team responded to Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei's claim that the Biden administration is responsible for the border crisis, assigning blame instead to issues such as climate change.

Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders told reporters that climate change and lack of economic opportunities were the "main drivers" contributing to the border crisis in America as the vice president arrived in Guatemala Sunday.

Those thoughts largely echo what Harris said last month when she promised to focus on the "root causes" of the border crisis.

"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," Harris said at the time.


But Giammattei made clear he holds a different view, saying he and the American vice president "are not on the same side of the coin" on this issue. Instead, Giammattei appeared to blame the Biden administration's welcoming tone to immigrants for the surge.

"The message changed too: ‘We're going to reunite families, we're going to reunite children,'" Giammattei said. "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 added.

Speaking at a news conference Monday, Harris seemingly changed her tune after her meeting with Giammattei.

"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. "The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border."

But later in the day, Harris made clear that her focus would still be on the "root causes" of the migrant crisis.

"I'm really clear we have to deal with the root causes. And that is my focus. Period," Harris said shortly before departing on Air Force Two.

The vice president also announced the formation of a task force to deal with corruption in the region, something the administration believes contributes to the flow of migrants.

"We are creating this task force to address corruption, to address human smuggling, doing the work to make sure certain progress be made if we are going to attract investment," Harris said.

"We must root out corruption wherever it exists," she said. "It erodes the confidence the people have in their government and its leaders."


Illustrating the gulf between the two sides, Giammattei denied the charges of corruption in his country.

"How many cases of corruption have I been accused of?" Giammattei asked an American reporter. "I can give you the answer: zero."

Original Location: Harris blames climate change for border crisis in response to Guatemalan president blaming Biden administration

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