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President Joe Biden wants to stem soaring migration levels through aid to Central American countries and by targeting corruption, efforts that have shown mixed results in years past while stoking new opposition in a region that feels scapegoated by the new U.S. administration.

Buy-in from leaders in the countries people are leaving is “fundamental” to achieving success, said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. . . .

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador has bristled at the administration’s criticism, refusing to meet with Biden’s envoy to the region during a visit last month and balking at rebukes from Washington this week, including from Vice President Kamala Harris, after his party ousted the country’s attorney general and five top judges. . . .

Bukele defended his decision in a meeting with foreign diplomats, purportedly private but broadcast on national television, that the move was within the law and that “elections have consequences.” Bukele’s party, which won a landslide victory in March, voted on the measure over the weekend, arguing the court was hamstringing the president’s ability to crack down on the spread of COVID-19 by overruling his lockdown orders.

A top Harris aide told reporters the White House remains committed to working on migration issues with Bukele, as they are seeking to do with other regional leaders. . . .

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, an adviser to Bukele balked at the criticism, charging that the White House had done more to decimate relations between the two countries “than any president since Carter,” when the administration supplied military aid to a U.S.-backed government. . . .

U.S.-Salvadoran relations, they added, “are now at a breaking point.”

The White House’s efforts have yielded better results with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who will meet virtually with Harris on Friday.

Biden has asked Mexico to crack down on migrants heading north toward the U.S. border, as did former President Donald Trump.

Though Obrador had a positive relationship with the last administration, he has blamed Biden for the surge in migration, charging that “expectations were created” by the Democrat and calling him the “migrant president.” . . .

Biden, who led the aid and development effort to Central America under former President Barack Obama, has tasked Harris with the same job. . . .

Border patrol encounters have continued to grow, with 172,000 encounters in March, 96,628 of whom were single adults.

Of the remaining 75,000 or so, more than 18,000 were unaccompanied minors, a record since 2009, with just under 53,000 families.

Under Title 42, a public health rule, the Biden administration has immediately deported solo adults, as well as some families. But the rationale for using it is fading as vaccines become more widely available.

Further, “smuggling networks understand U.S. immigration law,” which favors certain claims, said Peter Margulies, an immigration law professor who has written extensively on the issue.

Shifter said he supports the Biden administration’s efforts to engage in the region but that intermittent attention to the issue makes results harder to achieve. . . .

During her confirmation hearing, Samantha Power, Biden’s new USAID administrator, touted the agency’s work in Honduras as one noted success.

“In districts where USAID had programming aimed at curbing violence, there was a drop in homicide rates,” Power told senators in March. “That is encouraging.”

Beginning in 2014, Obama’s “strategy for engagement” included hundreds of good governance, jobs, and crime reduction projects. Biden praised the strategy, and the countries purported buy-in, in a 2015 op-ed.

Biden has tasked Harris with running a similar playbook, but systemic corruption and weak economies in the Northern Triangle countries make reform challenging. . . .

“There really needs to be some fundamental changes, structural changes in these countries. And it’s very hard to see that happening.”

On top of this, there’s a debate among officials over the extent to which Washington should work with civil society, business, and religious groups.

Shifter said that for sustainable results, working with governments is “unavoidable.”

Some experts say aid does little to deter migration in the short term, and can in fact lead to more departures as growing numbers of people can afford the journey. . . .

“As a poor country gets richer, at first more people emigrate, until the process eventually slows and reverses itself,” said Michael Clemens, director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. “We’ve seen it with Sweden a century ago and Mexico a half-century ago. We’re seeing it now in Central America, and we’ll hopefully see the pattern emerge in sub-Saharan Africa as that region gets richer.”

This is not a reason to cut aid, according to Clemens, who published a study last year that saw emigration rates rise along with growing GDP per capita. . . .

For the Biden administration, humanitarian assistance is just one part of the plan. Another is a drive against the region’s “predatory elite,” under the charge that graft drives people to leave home and seek economic opportunities elsewhere.

Harris pointed to migrants leaving home at “alarming rates” in remarks Monday. . . .

The two-pronged strategy played out in one day last week.

The administration issued sanctions against senior Guatemalan officials over alleged corruption. Hours later, Harris joined Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei for a virtual meeting during which she pledged $310 million in foreign aid and disaster relief to the Northern Triangle region. . . .

Shar your comments on the White House’s migration strategy below!

(Excerpt from The Washington Times. Article by  Katherine Doyle. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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May 16, 2021

Ironic isn’t it. They (the administration) continue to treat Americans as if we can’t see what they’re up to.
“So called aid” to help fight corruption as one of their goals!!?? So how does an administration who willingly defrauded the American people out of legal elections – how does a compromised, illegitimate president and multiple fellow party members propose to battle “dishonesty and corruption” when their own closets & party are so full of deceit and fraud that they can’t even see it? One thing I can say for this administration – they sure have learned a lot from Hollywood in “acting performances”.
And any taxpayer aid to other nations is meant to stay here to serve Americans first. If Biden is so “concerned” about the border, then go back to Trump era policies and finish the wall (NOT just the 13.2 mile ‘levee wall’). Previous policies were working very well and this present administration has purposely ruined it with their hell driven agenda.


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