Two Democratic leaders of the California Latino Legislative Caucus on Wednesday criticized Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent remarks discouraging Guatemalans from traveling to the U.S-Mexico border during her first foreign visit to Guatemala this week.
“Seeking asylum in the United States is not only legal but a matter of life and death for many,” said state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, in a statement. “We should not discourage asylum seekers from seeking a better life. They are doing what they need to do to survive.”
“As such, we urge the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to follow the moral and legal imperative to create a process to allow all asylum seekers to come to this country as a part of a larger, long-overdue comprehensive reform of our immigration system.”
Harris made the remarks to Guatemalans during a Monday news conference with Guatemala President Alejandro 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. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border,” she said. “If you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
Harris’ comments were also sharply rebuked this week by immigrant advocates, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, who have said U.S. officials have historically contributed to the destabilization of Latin American countries.
“This is disappointing to see,” according to a tweet by Ocasio-Cortez. “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.”
By Kim Bojorquez and David Lightman for THE FRESNO BEE
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