Vice President Kamala Harris’s first foreign trip, to Guatemala and Mexico, had a rocky start. First, her plane was forced to fly back to Joint Base Andrews due to a “technical issue” just 30 minutes after it took off. Now, her speech has ticked off many, including elected officials.
In Guatemala, Harris said: “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.”
Harris’s visit focused on migration and economic cooperation since President Joe Biden tasked her with leading the administration’s diplomatic efforts with the Northern Triangle countries.
Reacting to her speech, California Democratic Assemblymember Ash Kalra (in photograph on top) told indica News: “Seeking asylum and refugee status is legal in the United States.”
Kalra, chair of the Assembly Progressive Caucus, said: “Whether someone is seeking asylum from a South Asian nation or Central American one, the fact remains the same: the United States of America must always maintain its role in being a place of refuge for those seeking solace.”
The Indian-American lawmaker added: “We hope the administration recognizes this important role in crafting a humane response to the crisis in Central America that our nation played a hand in creating.”
Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals who can demonstrate that they are unable or unwilling to return to their country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.
There are 650,000 South Asian asylum seekers in the US, according to the civil rights organization South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT),
Assemblymember Kalra, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) also put out a press statement on Harris’s speech.
“It is disturbing to hear the Vice President visit a country in Central America, one that the United States has played a role in destabilizing, and tell struggling people not to seek asylum,” the statement said.
“It is a moral imperative to accept and welcome those seeking refuge at our shores and our borders. All people deserve respect, dignity, and compassion. As leaders of the Progressive Caucus, we strongly value inclusion and promoting human rights for all and urge the administration to move away from this divisive and dangerous rhetoric and create a pathway for residency, citizenship, and humanitarian efforts that put people first.”
Assemblymember Kalra said: “People fleeing violence, persecution, human trafficking, or extreme poverty and who ultimately risk it all for a better life for themselves and their families have been part of the history and foundation of our nation. There is much work to be done to achieve comprehensive immigration reform that is tied to foreign policy and american influence in developing nations.”