Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Vice President Kamala Harris' comments on immigration "disappointing" on Monday, after Harris said during a press conference that migrants looking to cross the US border should not come.
"I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home, at the same time I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making the unsafe trek to the United States-Mexico border - do not come, do not come", she said.
"Most people do not want to leave the place where they grew up", loved ones, and people with whom they share a language and culture, Harris said.
Following bilateral talks with the Guatemalan president Monday, Harris told members of the press that she was "proud to report agreements President Giammattei and I have made today will strengthen the security and prosperity for both people of Guatemala and the people of the United States".
Since President Joe Biden took office in January, the number of migrants taken into custody per month at the U.S. Mexico border has risen to the highest levels in 20 years.
"I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that unsafe trek to the U.S. -Mexico border: Do not come".
She rejected Republican criticism of the fact that neither she nor Biden had visited the U.S. southern border, saying she had come to Central America to discuss matters in a "way that is significant and has real results" rather than making "grand gestures".
Harris also said a US anti-corruption task force would work with local prosecutors to punish corrupt actors in the region.
Harris announced a joint task force on smuggling and human trafficking, a women's empowerment program, and an anti-corruption task force to help Central American law enforcement prosecute cases.
"We had a robust, candid and thorough conversation", Harris said.
However, disagreement has emerged over the best way to tackle corruption, with the United States giving recognition to anti-graft fighters the conservative government and its allies see as politically biased.
Still, her responsibilities in this role have generated some confusion and criticism, with some Republican lawmakers lambasting the vice president for not visiting the southern border despite rising numbers of migrants attempting to cross. "Do not come", she said.
"I will continue to be focused on that kind of work as opposed to grand gestures", she said.
In a twitter post, Ocasio-Cortez said coming to the USA border seeking asylum is a legal method of arrival.
Harris discussed sharing COVID-19 vaccines with Guatemala during the meeting, she said. She said the United States has contributed to regime change and destabilization in Latin America for decades.
Harris will also meet civil society leaders and entrepreneurs in Guatemala and then go to Mexico.