The U.S. will continue to “prioritize what’s happening at the border and why people are going to the border,” Vice President Kamala Harris said Tuesday evening during a press conference in Mexico City, adding that it is “short-sighted for any of us who are in the business of problem-solving to suggest we’re only going to respond to the reaction as opposed to addressing the cause.”
Harris is on her first foreign trip as vice president, and Mexico is her second stop, after Guatemala. “There’s no question we are entering a new era around the globe, and this new era has made it quite clear that we are interconnected and interdependent, and what affects one country affects the globe,” Harris said. “The president and I feel very strongly that what happens abroad matters to the people of the United States.”
Migration is a “complicated issue, complex, and many factors are at play when we look at migration historically and currently,” Harris said. While in Guatemala, Harris said the U.S. must address the root causes of migration from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and she reiterated this during her Tuesday remarks.
“I want to be very clear that the problem at the border, in large part if not entirely, stems from the problems in these countries,” she said. “I cannot say it enough — most people don’t want to leave home, and when they do it is usually for one of two reasons: Either they are fleeing harm, or to stay home means they cannot satisfy the basic needs to sustain and take care of their families.”
The U.S. and its allies know that if potential migrants have “a sense of hope that help is on the way,” they “will follow their first preference, which is to stay at home,” Harris said. That’s where they want to be, she argued, “in the town, in the neighborhood, in the place where they grew up, where they speak the language, they know the culture, they go to that church every Sunday, the place where their grandmother lives.”