Kamala Harris hits back at AOC over border criticism

‘We have to deal with the root causes, and that is my focus,’ vice president says

Louise Hall
Tuesday 08 June 2021 18:19
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'Don't come' to US, Joe Biden tells immigrants
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Vice President Kamala Harris has responded to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism of her comments on immigration after the Democratic lawmaker called the veep’s rhetoric “disappointing”.

AOC hit out at the vice president on Monday after she told those in Guatemala considering crossing the US border “do not come” during a news conference with Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei.

In a post on Twitter, Ms Ocasio-Cortez was quick to condemn the speech, pointing out that seeking asylum at the border is legal. Ms Ocasio-Cortez called the rhetoric “disappointing to see”.

Not long after the messages were published on Twitter, Ms Harris was quizzed on the backlash by a reporter before departing Guatemala for Mexico, reports said.

“Why did you emphasize that people shouldn’t come? AOC is now being critical of that, sort of, emphasis that you made,” a reporter asked the vice president.

“I’m really clear: we have to deal with the root causes, and that is my focus,” Ms Harris said in response before adding: “Period.”

The comments prompting AOC’s criticism came during a speech where Ms Harris suggested improved cooperation with Guatemala on addressing the spike in migration to the US.

“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,” she said on Monday.

She added: “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border. There are legal methods which migration can and should occur, but we as one of our priorities will discourage illegal migration.”

Ms Harris said that those who come to the border will be “turned back”, asking the audience to discourage those around them from embarking on the “extremely dangerous” journey.

“First, seeking asylum at any US border is a 100 per cent legal method of arrival,” AOC added in her response to the clip.

Global humanitarian aid organisation, the International Rescue Committee, explains that “seeking asylum is legal—even during a pandemic.”

AOC continued: “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 overwhelming number of migrants traveling to the border has become one of the most difficult challenges for the new administration since Joe Biden took office.

While the new government has taken steps to roll back some of the harshest policies of former president Donald Trump policy allowing border officials to immediately send people back upon arrival remains in place.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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