During her trip to Guatemala, Vice President Kamala Harris learned that words, no matter the intention, can cause significant damage. On her first trip abroad as Vice President of the United States, Harris stoked controversy when she told potential migrants from Guatemala, “do not come.” 

She warned that would-be migrants could be turned away at the southern border of the United States, adding, “So let’s discourage our friends, our neighbors, our family members from embarking on what is otherwise an extremely dangerous journey.” It’s a shame that VP Harris’ comment has overshadowed the entire point of her trip, which was to understand and examine the root cause of unauthorized migration to the U.S. from the region. 

The widespread opinion is that Harris was wrong to tell potential migrants from Central American to not come into the United States. By law, asylum seekers need to be present in the country when they make their case. This was the case even when Donald Trump was President of the United States.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was quick to criticize Kamala Harris’ remarks. She said, “This is disappointing to see… 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.”

Likewise, Harris’ remark about how perilous the trip to the United States could be was also criticized. 

In reality, however, Vice President Harris’ remarks were likely not solely intended for Central Americans. Sources have indicated that she possibly meant to preclude charges from the Republicans about the Biden administration supporting “open borders.”