Guatemala to Kamala Harris: Give Americans’ Jobs to Our Migrants

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei speaks during a joint press conference with US Vice-President Kamala Harris (out of frame) at the Culture Palace in Guatemala City on June 7, 2021. - Harris arrived in Guatemala Sunday, bringing a message of "hope" to a region hammered by Covid-19 and which is the …
JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden should help Guatemalans get Americans’ wages — in exchange for Guatemala helping to curb the flow of worldwide migrants across the border, according to Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

The proposed migrant-for-migrant deal was spotlighted during a June 7 press conference with Giammattei and Vice President Kamala Harris. She met with Giammattei in Guatemala to showcase her focus on the claimed “root causes” of Central Americans’ migration into U.S. jobs.

“We need the Americans to help us to stop the deportations” of Guatemalan migrants, Giammattei told a reporter.

The answer came after a reporter asked about Guatemala’s proposal that the roughly one million Guatemalan migrants living in the United States be awarded “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) by Biden’s deputies. The TPS status allows illegal migrants to stay and work in the United States for many years.

According to the official translator, Giammattei said:

Regarding the TPS, we have elevated our request to Madam Vice President, particularly in view of the effects of [hurricanes] Eta and Iota and volcano [eruptions] last year, and we need the Americans to help us, to stop the deportations for some time, and yes, we asked the US government for TPS so that we can focus on development, but also by helping migrants in the United States, our migrants in the United States, not only to make money and send it, but also to give them the financial literacy so that they can establish their companies and Enterprises here in Guatemala so that they can come back to this country to create opportunities with what we have learned abroad.

Harris did not say the U.S. had agreed to Guatemala’s price for curbing migration up through the narrow isthmus of Central America. Guatemala’s border stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so it is in a position to could block migration if its officials reject bribes by migrants.

Instead, Harris offered a scripted, ready-for-TV, and toothless warning to millions of potential migrants.

Those would-be-migrants are now watching their friends and relatives walk through Biden’s half-open border into low-dollar jobs that provide high-value remittances to the migrants’ families, but Harris declared:

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 … I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back. So let’s discourage our friends or neighbors or family members from embarking on what is otherwise an extremely dangerous journey, where in large part, the only people who benefit are coyotes.

And let us do our work together Mr President, again, with our mutual commitment of knowing that hope is on the way.

In reality, Biden’s border chief, Alejandro Mayorkas, is giving hope to migrants by using obscure immigration laws to help them walk through the U.S. border.

For example, when illegal migrants are caught near the border, Mayorkas uses his legal authority to send them back to the five-yard line in Mexico instead of flying them 2,000 miles back to Central America.

He is helping economic migrants get jobs by letting them file for political asylum in the United States.

He is helping teenage economic migrants walk into jobs via side door created in 2008 law for victimized children.

He is helping older migrants stay in the United States by letting them use the 2008 law to pull their left-behind children up into the United States.

Mayorkas is also using his parole power to invite lawfully deported migrants to rejoin their left-behind migrant children who are applying for asylum.

In April, for example, Mayorkas let roughly 70,000 working-age migrants through the U.S.-Mexico border, just as companies complain that wages are rising for Americans.

Mayorkas’s policy helps U.S. investors and Democrats by extracting consumers, renters, workers, and possible future voters from foreign countries for exploitation in the United States. Investors use the migrants to cut Americans’ wages and drive up real estate costs.

Guatemala’s government also uses the migrants — and their remittances — to muffle pressure from young people for political and economic reforms.

“The point of the trip is political theatrics,” responded Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He continued:

It’s really the administration pretending it is responding to the border crisis when in fact they are permitting it to continue and in fact facilitating it. That’s the immediate political purpose of the trip. The secondary purpose is to give Kamela some foreign policy photo ops. so when she runs for president, she’ll be able to talk about how she has this extensive experience with foreign leaders.

Any impact on migration “is tertiary because nobody expects that throwing money into an underdeveloped country with a corrupt ruling class is going to make any difference” to migration, he added.

Mayorkas is also cutting another hole in border protections for Americans by allowing U.S.-based migrants to bring their left-behind family members up to the United States. The family members– including K-12 children — would be admitted via the “parole” loophole. Giammattei said:

We are also working strongly on a family reunification program, legally, however, so that persons who wish to apply for their families can do so by filling out the paperwork and the counselors in the United States embassy will have a special section for this. And in that case, we can start regular controlled migration, particularly, whereby we can begin to generate opportunities in the historically neglected [counties] at the [Guatemalan] border with Mexico.

Yet Giammattei asked for more migration avenues, even though critics say that the combination of migration and remittances muffles public pressure for reforms of Guatemala’s government.

He suggested that Biden’s team should invite more Guatemalan migrants into U.S. jobs via the H-2B seasonal labor program and the unlimited H-2A farmworker visa programs. The translator said:

We shared our points of view on the ways in which we have thought of tackling the different issues and the search for openness of their market to give us greater access to the United States, [and] to generate prosperity in our country by introducing necessary changes for migration to become orderly migration through [the] H-1A and H-2B visas. We believe that we can start a very simple process to allow [Guatemalan] people to migrate regularly to the United States.

In return, Giammattei suggested he would set up a U.S.-style center to aid the few migrants who are deported by Mayorkas.

We spoke about the need to support the United States with a return center [for deported migrants] that will be located in the western part of the country, and for which we’re going to implement. In that manner, [it will] help to ensure that that the flow of persons in the southern border of the United States be controlled.

Giammattei and Harris announced a series of token steps against migration, including a claimed crackdown on cartels and coyotes. “Security is probably one of the highest priorities for each of our nations,” Harris declared, adding:

The President and I agreed to continue our work to manage migration, on both northern and southern borders. We also discussed illicit drugs that are being smuggled and humans who are being trafficked across those borders, undermining the security of both the people of Guatemala and the people of the United States. Our nations have collaborated on these issues, and we will create a Smuggling and Human Trafficking Task Force, which will work with local law enforcement to stop these crimes.

But Harris did not commit to enforcing the U.S. immigration laws that would block the cartels and coyotes from delivering migrants into U.S. jobs.

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