Speaking in Guatemala City, Harris said her trip and and President Joe Biden's first trip overseas later this week are reflections of their administration's intention to rebuild relationships with allies. "We are creating this task force to address corruption, to address human smuggling, doing the work to make sure certain progress be made if we are going to attract investment", Harris said. The fight against drug trafficking needed to be an integral part of tackling corruption, he said. Harris said Guatemalans should not take the risky journey north.
Most Guatemalan migrants leave because of poverty, he said, and come from a few rural municipalities.
"Do not come. Do not come".
U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the Joint Task Force Alpha would marshal Justice Department and Homeland Security resources against "the most prolific and dangerous" human smuggling and trafficking groups in the region, according to a statement.
"I am against her stepping over the sovereignty of the Guatemalan...most of all to bring an anti-corruption agenda, where they protect good but corrupt people, where she has met with convicts in the United States", stated Jorge Lemus, former captain of infantry for the Guatemalan Army. And I believe, if you come to our border, you will be turned back.
In an interview with CBS News as Ms Harris visits his country following her appointment to lead the Biden administration's response to the surge of migration at the US' southern border, Alejandro Giammattei stressed that the two sides differ over how to address the problem, but not in their beliefs regarding its causes. "What fight against corruption is she talking about?" It said the group will complement the efforts to build cases against corrupt actors.
Harris was also greeted by protesters chanting "Trump won" and "go home" as she arrived in Guatemala.
Harris is due to travel to Mexico after Guatemala for talks with the Mexican government on Tuesday. Priorities include economic development, climate and food insecurity and women's issues, White House officials said.
"It is in our collective interest that we work together", Harris said at the start of a meeting with Giammattei. Harris and her team see this first foreign trip as an opportunity to advance that effort after weeks spent laying the groundwork for meetings in the region.