Guatemalan president: When the U.S. sends mixed messages about immigration, don't be surprised that migrants come

Not the first time that the leader of a country south of the border has noticed that Biden’s policies are encouraging immigration even if the official rhetoric is discouraging. Mexico’s president said the same thing in late March.

In fact, Alejandro Giammattei, the president of Guatemala, has also made the point before.

On April 13, he told MSNBC: ‘I believe that in the first few weeks of the Biden administration, messages were confusing.

‘They were compassionate messages that were understood by people in our country, especially the coyotes, to tell families, ‘We’ll take the children.

‘And children can go, and once children are there, they will call their parents.’

Giammattei said he has seen coyotes carry out ‘horrible acts’, and criticized the U.S. for not properly responding to the surge of migrants.

That’s part of the reason we ended up with a record-breaking number of border encounters in May. Giammattei repeated the point in an interview with Fox last night:

He’s careful to praise Kamala Harris for having delivered a “clear” message when she said during her press conference in Guatemala a few days ago that migrants shouldn’t come, but that’s idle diplomatic flattery. The U.S. message remains unclear because the policy and the rhetoric continue to be at odds. If you live in Central America the U.S. government is formally requesting that you not seek asylum up north — but if you choose to disregard that advice, you’ll be admitted into the U.S. anyway if you’re under 18 and possibly admitted if you’re an adult accompanying child.

The supreme example of American “mixed messaging” on this subject came in mid-March when the head of DHS, Alejandro Mayorkas, made those two points practically in the same breath during an interview. Do not send your children, he warned parents abroad who might be listening, but rest assured that they’ll be well cared for if you do. Fast-forward to Harris telling Guatemalans three months later not to come. Once parents hear through the grapevine that kids are still being admitted, why would they heed her warning? It’s empty rhetoric.

That’s why Harris’s disastrous trip this week is only partly her fault. It’s her fault that she can’t effectively answer a question as simple as “So, any plans to visit the border?” but it’s the White House’s fault that she’s now caught in no-man’s land between open-borders nuts like AOC who resent her for telling Central Americans not to seek asylum and righty border hawks who resent her for the lax Biden policies that have produced an unprecedented crush of immigration at the border. Essentially she was set up to fail. And she did fail, as even Democrats privately admit:

Biden allies and even some people close to Harris said they viewed her trip to Guatemala and Mexico as a “disaster,” as one put it…

“It wasn’t great,” said one longtime Biden ally. “A little cringeworthy too. I don’t know how they weren’t preparing for these questions.”

Another ally was blunt: “It was terrible. I don’t know how else to say it.”…

One Democratic strategist said there is clearly a “failure of strategy on how to position the vice president on the issue” and it’s apparent in how they handled sending Harris on her first foreign trip.

“It makes her look a little listless,” the strategist said. “It’s an issue you can’t win on.”

Harris is a bad retail politician but it’s the schizophrenic policy that’s truly terrible, encouraging and discouraging immigration at the same time. The very least they could have done was make sure that HHS was prepared for a gigantic influx of kids before the Trump-era policy on admitting children was lifted but they didn’t even do that. Now we’re going to bribe Guatemala to try to do something on their end to stem that flow and that won’t work either. Congrats to the White House in setting up Harris to be the face of failure as 2024 creeps closer.

Jazz Shaw Jul 03, 2022 10:01 AM ET