US Government Promises Central America $310 Million to Discourage Immigration

San Francisco, CA - August 23, 2019: Presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaking at the Democratic National Convention summer session in San Francisco, California.

Kamala Harris promised Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday that Washington will send $310 million in humanitarian aid to Central America to tackle the economic woes which cause the massive immigration to the north.

“The United States plans to increase relief to the region, strengthen our cooperation to manage migration in an effective, secure and humane manner,” Harris promised Giammattei.

Harris, who is leading the Joe Biden administration’s efforts to address the influx of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to the US-Mexico border, met with Giammattei by videoconference prior to her visit to Central America scheduled for June.

“The United States plans to increase relief to the region, strengthen our cooperation to manage migration in an effective, secure and humane manner,” Harris promised Giammattei.

President Biden asked Congress for $861 million next year to address the causes that drive the excessive immigration from Central America into the United States. His proposal is included in the budget bill that has yet to be discussed and approved by legislators.

More than 172,000 undocumented immigrants, including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied minors, were detained in March at the southern border of the United States, a rise of 71% in a month and the highest level in 15 years. Most of the migrants come from the three countries of the Central American Northern Triangle.

That area, vulnerable to natural disasters, was hit by two devastating hurricanes in November and is hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and a prolonged drought.

“We want to work with you to address both the acute causes and the root causes (of migration) in a way that gives hope to the people of Guatemala that there will be an opportunity for them if they stay home,” Harris also told Giammattei during the virtual meeting.

Giammattei agreed on the need to “create hope” in Guatemala. “The Guatemalan government wants to be a partner [to the US] to address… not only poverty but also the many evils that affect us all,” he said. Then the Guatemalan President noted that he was looking forward to Harris’ visit in June this year.

Harris, who took note of it, said goodbye with a “thank you very much” in Spanish.

On Twitter, Giammattei said that she discussed with Harris “multiple issues of interest to both nations.” “We coincide in the generation of hope through the consolidation of walls of prosperity, so that people find opportunities in Guatemala,” he tweeted.

The vice president’s statement said that both governments will coordinate on security issues to combat criminal organizations that help drive migration, as well as open migrant support centers to establish safe and legal migration.

At a press conference, the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Pedro Brolo, said that Guatemala assumed the “commitment” to strengthen the presence of security forces at the borders to contain irregular migration, as well as custom crimes, among other illicit activities.

The Giammattei government said that it will make an “effort to increase the number” of border police officers. The Guatemalan Foreign Minister explained that the process will be counseled by officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who will soon arrive in Guatemala.

Brolo charged against the human smugglers, known as “coyotes”, by assuring that they are encouraging the travel to the north of the people with “misinformation” about “greater benefits” for the migrants with the coming to power of Biden after four years of Donald Trump’s tough anti-immigration policy.