On, Tuesday, V P Kamala Harris said the “alarming” influx of migrants along the US-Mexico border cannot be resolved without washing up corruption in Central America.
Five weeks ago Harris was appointed to lead US efforts to stem the sudden increase in illegal border crossings, shamed El Salvador’s parliament for voting Saturday to exile judges on the country’s supreme court, and referred to “relentless corruption” in Guatemala in her most inclusive public remarks on the crisis to date.
“Citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras are leaving their homes at alarming rates,” Harris told the annual Washington Conference on the Americas in web streamed remarks.
“No matter how much effort we put in on curbing violence, providing disaster relief, on tackling food insecurity — on any of it — we will not make significant progress if corruption in the region persists,” Harris said.
On 4th May 2021, V P Kamala Harris spoke about the influx of migrants into the United States at the Washington Conference on the Americas. She said:
“If corruption persists, history has told us, it will be one step forward and two steps back. And we know corruption causes government institutions to collapse from within.”
Harris didn’t call it a ‘crisis. Biden’s administration officials have avoided the term, though both President Biden and White House press secretary Jen Psaki have used it at least once.
Harris highlighted the Biden’s administration has recently increased US aid to Central America by “an additional $310 million” to stem the flow of migrants. Ex-President Trump utilized foreign aid to the countries as power and held some funding in 2019, arguing it was “probably just stolen” by corrupt leaders there.
Harris said that irrespective of corruption fears, the Biden administration expected to deal with immediate “push” factors for migration and long-running issues led by corruption.
Harris said, “In El Salvador, in the face of violence, we must focus on high-crime areas and give young people alternatives to gang recruitment. In Honduras. In the wake of hurricanes, we must deliver food, shelter, water, and sanitation to the people. And in Guatemala, as farmers endure continuous droughts, we must work with them to plant drought-resistant crops. We must also help them and help women farmers increase their harvest. This work makes a difference”.
When a sudden increase was observed in March, Biden named Harris to deal with the families and unaccompanied minors from the three-country “Northern Triangle” — El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala — illegally crossing the US border.
In April, Republicans criticized Harris for lack of traveling and public events addressing the crisis.
New VP has addressed with the Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei twice and also with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. She didn’t speak with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández or El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele.
Republicans claim that the surge is observed due to Biden’s border policy changes. Biden-backed legislation that would allow citizenship for most illegal immigrants creates new “pull” factors.
Biden terminated Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy in February 2021. This expected Central American asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while US courts revised their claims.