Vice President Kamala Harris will make anti-corruption efforts “front and center” of her visits to Guatemala and Mexico next week, as part of her efforts to tackle the “root causes” of the migration crisis at the southern border, a senior administration official said Thursday.
Harris will visit both countries next week, marking her first visit to the countries since being appointed to lead the diplomatic efforts to tackle what the administration sees as the drivers of the migration flows north.
The official told reporters that an anti-corruption agenda “will be front and center in the Vice President’s upcoming trip,” as part of a broader foreign policy push against corruption by the administration.
Harris had made similar remarks on Wednesday, in which she named corruption as one of the things she wanted to discuss with the president of Guatemala — along with issues like hunger, economic development and extreme weather.
Axios reports that likely topics in Guatemala are the recent confirmation of judges to the country’s Constitutional Court who are under investigation and President Alejandro Giammattei’s criticism of members of the country’s special prosecutor who oversees corruption cases.
Harris has previously criticized moves by the parliament in El Salvador to undermine the judiciary.
“An independent judiciary is critical to a healthy democracy and a strong economy. On this front, on every front, we must respond,” she said in April.
Harris has come under fire from Republicans, who have criticized her failure to visit the border and also to hold a press conference on the crisis. While the White House has said she is not responsible for the border per se, Republicans have argued she needs to see the border to understand the crisis.
There were more than 178,000 migrant encounters in April alone, including 13,000 unaccompanied children. Republicans have pointed to the rollback of Trump-era policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), as well as narrowing of interior enforcement.
Fox News’ Erin McEwan contributed to this report.