Harris Announces Funding to Address Root Causes of Migration Crisis

WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday announced nearly $1 billion in new commitments by private companies to support communities in Central America, part of the Biden administration’s effort to prevent immigrants from entering the United States. emigrated to the US border.

Ten companies, including Nestle, Target and Columbia Sportswear, said they would jointly spend $950 million on projects in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to support farmers, create textile jobs and invest in telecommunications and other industries.

The effort comes as crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border remain at record highs, posing logistical and humanitarian challenges for President Biden and drawing fierce criticism from officials. Republicans on Capitol Hill.

House Republicans have begun investigating the administration’s efforts at the border and have said they may pursue the impeachment of Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of Homeland Security.

The vice president’s announcement is expected to be made when she meets Monday afternoon with several companies.

It complements commitments from businesses through the Partnership for Central America, a nonprofit created in mid-2021 to facilitate Ms. Harris’s efforts to rally support. households for the area. The previous partnership announced about $3 billion in future spending from a range of companies.

According to the vice president’s aides, the idea is intended to address what she calls the root causes of migration: poverty, corruption, climate change and political instability driving people out. homes in search of a better life.

Regulatory officials say the program has produced results, though they acknowledged in a call with reporters that they were unable to document those effects specifically. Officials say that since mid-2021, migration from these three countries has decreased by 71%.

“As part of this public-private partnership, approximately 47 companies and institutions are collaborating in the financial services, textiles, agriculture, technology, telecommunications and nonprofit sectors to strengthen economic security of the region,” the White House wrote in a published fact sheet. in Monday.

But even those involved in the effort say there are challenges to its success, especially in the short term.

Ajay Banga, Mastercard’s former executive chairman and one of the business executives who worked with Ms. Harris on the Central America fundraising effort, said it’s unlikely to make a difference in a few months or even the next few years.

“If anyone talking to you is claiming victory, they are crazy,” Mr. Banga said. “There is work. There is real work there. That $3 billion is exciting, but it’s not done yet.”

Mr. Banga and others said they were impressed with Ms. Harris’ preparation and behind-the-scenes informative questions on the matter. But he says the administration’s focus on monitoring when money is invested and preventing illegal migration is crucial to its success.

“Then this can make a difference within five or 10 years,” Mr. Banga said.

There are other challenges, too. Those who have worked with the administration for more than a year and a half say that private investment is not enough as the US competes with other countries, especially China, to invest in the region.

The executives of several companies that have pledged millions of dollars over the next five years or so say they will also need regulatory changes and tariff adjustments if they are to be successful in the long run. .

They will also need the infrastructure to support their investments — roads, internet, and electricity — and the total scale of spending by other similar companies. Both are things that China has embraced as it expands investment across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In response, the administration said Monday that Ms. Harris would announce a program to increase investment in infrastructure in the region.

The program aims to help companies access funding from the United States International Development Finance Corporation and will establish a North Central American Investment Support Group to promote economic development.


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