Guatemalan president says he's had no direct contact with White House since border czar Harris' June meeting – Fox News

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President Alejandro Giammattei tells Fox News in exclusive interview that Biden administration has only minimal contact with him, as immigration crisis continues
EXCLUSIVE: Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told Fox News‘ John Roberts in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he has not spoken with the White House since Vice President Kamala Harris, the Biden administration’s border czar, met him in Guatemala City over the summer.
Giammattei said that there is “much to be done” to fix the migration crisis affecting both nations, as Guatemalans flee, often illegally, into the United States.
On Harris’ stated focus on “root causes” of migration in Central America, Giammattei suggested on “America Reports” that the crisis is not a single-faceted issue.
“First of all, migration can’t be stopped on the basis of circumstantial causes. It needs to be stopped on the basis of structural causes,” he said, pointing to the drug cartels that are largely in Mexico who also smuggle Guatemalans and other humans into the U.S.
“It’s a big business to run trafficking-person schemes. It’s a $4 billion business for these criminals. And therefore we need to address structural causes,” Giammattei added.
Giammattei recalled telling Harris that as a former prosecutor in California, she likely understands the U.S. criminal code can be strengthened to better eradicate the problems.
Migrants who aim to reach the U.S. walk along a highway as they leave San Pedro Sula, Honduras before dawn Tuesday. (AP Photo/Delmer Martinez)
He told Roberts that the federal government could better enforce and strengthen federal crime statutes against coyotes or the individual human traffickers themselves.
“Then the U.S. can ask us to expand our extradition conditions — and with that, these coyotes would land in a federal prison with very severe penalties. This is something that drug traffickers fear,” Giammattei said.
Roberts asked if it seems “odd” that Harris and Biden have not spoken to him directly since their meeting, despite the ongoing crisis intensifying on the continent.
Giammattei added that he has however had contact with the ambassador from the United States. 
President-elect Alejandro Giammattei speaks during a interview with AFP in Guatemala City on August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images – REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
“We had many conversations with your ambassador, but [between] my presidency and the White House, no. I spoke once to Joe Biden because I introduced myself. Then we had the visit of Vice President Harris. On matters of state and migration, we had Mr. Alejandro Mayorkas. Aside from that direct communication, no we have not had it.”
When asked whether Biden or Donald Trump have had better immigration policies, Giammattei deferred to the American people.
However, he added that the single year his term and Trump’s coincided, the correspondence was more “direct.”
“I am not the same ideology of the current administration. They expressed great happiness with the change that recently occurred in the election inside Honduras with the new president-elect,” added Giammattei, a member of the conservative Vamos Party.
In Honduras, the left-wing Liberty & Refoundation Party candidate Xiomara Castro won that country’s election earlier this year, defeating Nasry Asfura, a member of the Christian-Humanist “National” Party of incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez, signaling a leftward political shift in Tegucigalpa.
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Giammattei later told Roberts that despite critics, Guatemala and the U.S. have a lot in common: “We are allies of U.S. allies.”
He noted that his government supports Taiwanese sovereignty as well as the fact it has one of the few international embassies in Jerusalem, Israel – where Trump moved the U.S. outpost during his term.
When asked if he feels the U.S. is a partner in economic development and trying to lift Guatemalans out of poverty, Giammattei remarked, “The day I meet [Biden] personally, I will ask him.”
Roberts later told “America Reports” co-host Sandra Smith that he asked about meeting Giammattei again after Biden eventually engages with him.
Giammattei, he said, responded, “We may be waiting a long time to meet.”
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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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