A few days ago, on June 7, 2021, Kamala Harris (the VP of the USA) had her first overseas trip, to Guatemala, since taking office. After she has been tasked by Joe Biden (POTUS) with controlling a surge in migration at the southern border, the trip is an information-gathering mission. For the VP, their main task is finding solutions to tackle smuggling and corruption between the US border and the south.
However, delivering her speech alongside Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Harris spotlighted migrants who try to move to the US to find better living conditions and economic opportunities. Addressing immigrants directly, Harris said, “Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders”.
It is essential to underline a few things about this speech and its consequences. Firstly, it is legitimate for the Vice-President to try to refrain migrants from coming to the US; there is no illegal part of these words. The real question is: is Harris trying to tackle migration or illegal migration?
“Unless your ancestors were native to these shores, or forcibly enslaved and brought here as part of our original sin as a nation, most Americans can trace their family history back to a choice, a choice to leave behind all that was familiar in search of new opportunities and a new life”. This was one of the key points of the entire presidential campaign Biden-Harris, deter and curb illegal migration and push migrants to choose to come to the USA via legal routes – and this is undeniable if we compare their recent Acts. In five months, the Biden-Harris administration increased the number of refugees from 12,500 to 62,500, increased visas for seasonal and skilled workers, facilitated visas for study or marital reunification, prevented the separation of parents and children in detention centres for irregular migrants – among measures adopted.
Moving forward, the most important thing to underline is not the speech per se. Since it would be easily matched with facts and legal novelties in the US framework to find the proper interpretation, it is more interesting to interpret reactions to the speech in the world. Indeed, according to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the leading member of the left-wing of the Democrats, the VP speech has been particularly harsh and disappointing. She tweeted, “First, seeking asylum anywhere on the US border is a 100% legal method of arrival. Second, the US has contributed to regime change and destabilisation in Latin America for decades. We cannot help someone set fire to their house and then accuse them of fleeing”.
AOC, please, tell us when has Biden or Harris ever said that? It seems that sometimes, even the left-wing democrats and socialists fall into the net of fake news. Moreover – and that is the real point – there have been iconic reactions even in Italy. “US Vice President and left-wing idol Kamala Harris now talks like Donald Trump and addressing migrants who would like to enter the US clearly says that illegal immigration will be opposed”. These are words by Giorgia Meloni, leader of Fratelli d’Italia, the right-wing party in Italy. Meloni compared the former US President Trump and the Biden administration accusing the Italian left-wing parties not to attack Harris’ words as they made during the Trump mandate. This is simply false.
During her speech, Harris also announced a task force to deal with human trafficking, fight corruption and help local authorities prosecute cases, and a women’s empowerment programme; she also promised financial support and sent half a million doses of vaccine to curb the pandemic. Trump never said or made something comparable to these initiatives. Again, the right-wing propaganda newspaper Libero on its official website published Harris’ speech pointing the finger against the Italian left-wing parties, which it describes as “embarrassing” in their silence regarding Harris’ words.
This is manipulative since the US and Italy have different problems in dealing with migration. These countries are not comparable in their law enforcement decisions in tackling illegal migration and manage legal ones. Why should the Italian left parties talk about other countries’ decisions once they demonstrate to respect human rights and solidarity with migration phenomena, as the Biden administration already made?
These manipulative techniques aim to make other countries’ politics affect the Italian left while they are not in charge of other administrations.
In conclusion, everything, in this case, demonstrates that infodemia and illiteracy are the real pandemics of our world.