Most recent migrants to the United States come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador following two hurricanes, the COVID pandemic and the drought.
The United States will give $ 310 million in humanitarian aid to Central America, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei in a virtual meeting, her office said, as the region seeks to cope with a wave of northward migration.
Harris, who is leading President Joe Biden’s efforts to deal with the influx of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador across Mexico to the US border, had a virtual meeting with Giammattei on Monday. She plans to visit Central America in June.
“In light of the dire situation and the acute suffering facing millions of people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Vice President Harris announced additional support of $ 310 million from the U.S. government for the humanitarian aid and to fight against food insecurity, ”she said. office said after the meeting.
He said the two governments would also coordinate law enforcement efforts to tackle criminal organizations whose activities contribute to migration, as well as open migrant resource centers to establish safe legal migration.
“The United States plans to increase relief efforts in the region, to strengthen our cooperation to manage migration in an efficient, safe and humane manner,” Harris promised Giammattei.
According to the White House press office, the aid will include $ 125 million to help “alleviate the impact of recurring drought, food shortages and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
The US State Department will also provide assistance of $ 104 million for the “immediate security and protection needs of refugees, asylum seekers” as well as displaced persons in the region.
Specifically for Guatemala, the United States will give $ 25 million to farmers, while an additional $ 30 million will go to Guatemala and Honduras for daily meals and school literacy programs.
Biden has asked Congress for $ 861 million to tackle the causes of irregular immigration from Central America, as part of his $ 4 billion plan for the region.
The proposal is included in the draft budget for next year which has yet to be discussed and approved by lawmakers.
More than 172,000 undocumented immigrants, including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied minors, were detained at the southern US border in March, an increase of 71% in one month and the highest level in 15 years.
Most migrants come from the three countries of the northern triangle of Central America.
The region, vulnerable to natural disasters, was hit by two devastating hurricanes in November and is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged drought.
“We want to work with you to tackle both the acute and the root causes (of migration) in a way that gives hope to the Guatemalan people that there will be an opportunity for them if they stay. at 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 (with the United States) in fighting… not only against poverty, but also against the many ills that affect us all,” he said.
In addition, the president said he looked forward to Harris’ visit in June.
Many migrants said Biden’s overthrow of the sweeping immigration policies of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, gave them new hope.
The changes include the ability for unaccompanied children to stay and be united with parents living in the United States.
The number of unaccompanied children detained after illegally crossing the border, or attempting to sneak through official ports of entry, doubled in March from February to 18,890, according to US Customs and Border Protection.