Guatemala: We have no idea what Biden and Harris are talking about

AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced some good news on the illegal immigration front. A deal had been struck with Guatemala, also involving Mexico and Honduras, wherein they would increase the number of troops and security personnel along their border and frequently used migration routes to stem the flow of migrants heading north. She went on to say that Guatemala had “surged 1,500 police and military personnel” to the border with Honduras as part of this effort. So that’s good news, right? It doesn’t do anything about the crowds currently amassed at the US-Mexico border, but if you can slow down the next wave, that’s better than nothing.

There was only one problem with that story. Guatemalan officials released their own statement yesterday saying that there was no new agreement with the Biden administration and no such agreement had been signed. Further, they moved all of those troops months ago. (The Hill)

The government of Guatemala on Tuesday pushed back against claims from the White House earlier this week that it had signed an agreement with the U.S. to increase security at their border.

The statement, which says there is no “signed document” between the two countries relating to border security, points to an influx in troops sent to the border earlier this year…

In its Spanish language statement, Guatemala says the 1,500 troops were sent to the border in January of this year in response to migrant caravans.

Despite the credit that Jen Psaki was trying to give to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Guatemalan President Alejandro Guimmattei ordered those troops to the border immediately after taking office on January 14th of this year. And for those of you who have already thrown away those pages from your calendar, that was when Trump was still in office.

In case you wanted more verification of the timeline, the Associated Press published pictures of the newly arrived Guatemalan forces rounding up Honduran migrants at their border on January 18th. Unfortunately, those reports didn’t make much of a splash in the United States media at the time, so you had to go to the international outlets to find them.

That didn’t stop Psaki from really talking this up as if some important breakthrough in negotiations had been achieved. (You’ll recall that Joe Biden said Kamala Harris was focusing on working with those Northern Triangle countries to slow the flow of migrants.) She went on to say, “The objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey, and make crossing the borders more difficult.” She added, “We worked with them to increase law enforcement at the border to deter the travel, which is a treacherous journey.”

It’s simply impossible that this was an accident or a case of Psaki “misspeaking” or getting her dates wrong. She stood at the lectern and told the press corps that this administration had crafted a deal. But the “results” being delivered took place three months ago. Fortifying the border was something that Guimmattei had promised during his campaign and it was part of the ongoing efforts to cooperate with Donald Trump’s plan to shut down the flow of illegal migrants.

How was this story not playing on a loop on the cable news networks last night? This wasn’t a case of politicians exaggerating their accomplishments. It was a blatant lie. The Biden administration is trying to take credit today for something that happened before Uncle Joe was even sworn in. And the implication that Kamala Harris must have been instrumental in this “victory” was just another example of the White House trying to turn her into some sort of accomplished international diplomat.

Is this the “return to normalcy” we were promised? Given how often the fact-checkers tallied up all of the “lies and misleading statements” from Trump, perhaps Biden became confused and figured that was the old normal and that his team had better start lying also.