Vice President Kamala Harris recently traveled to Guatemala and Mexico as part of her assignment to address the “root causes” of an ongoing surge in illegal immigration to the United States.
The early consensus, however, is that the trip did not go particularly well for her, as she receives criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
“Do not come”
According to Fox News, progressives were particularly upset over her message attempting to dissuade potential migrants from making the journey northward to the U.S.-Mexican border.
“I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border,” Harris said during a press conference in Guatemala on Monday. “Do not come. Do not come.”
The vice president went on to insist that the U.S. government “will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border,” defending the “legal methods by which migration can and should occur.”
One of the public rebukes came from the leaders of the California Latino Caucus, which has been an otherwise staunch ally of Harris and the Biden administration in general.
The caucus released a statement following the vice president’s trip, declaring: “In keeping with past precedent, we should not discourage asylum seekers from seeking a better life. They are doing what they need to do to survive.”
“Discourage illegal immigration”
That message differed distinctly from the remarks delivered earlier in the week by Harris, who promised that the administration “will discourage illegal immigration” and anyone who arrives at the border “will be turned back.”
The California Latino Caucus echoed concerns among many on the left, urging the executive and legislative branches “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.”
Although the statement was apparently crafted in a way to scold Harris and the Biden administration as gently as possible, it reinforced the perception that the vice president’s international trip was not received well by her progressive base.
A number of Democratic allies, some of whom spoke anonymously, described her trip as “clumsy,” a “disaster,” and even a “failure.” Of course, her remarks in Guatemala were not her only recent misstep in addressing the border crisis.
Lester Holt of NBC News interviewed Harris and pressed her on the decision not to visit the border in person and she stumbled through an answer that did not address longstanding concerns initially raised by Republican critics.