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House Republicans are slamming the Biden administration’s proposal to send cash to Central American countries to help solve the “root causes” of the immigration crisis — calling the initiative to send millions of dollars to notoriously corrupt governments a terrible idea.
“The strategy of sending cash payments to foreign countries to stem the tide of illegal immigration caused by Biden administration policies is naive and misguided,” lawmakers on the House Oversight and Budget committees wrote in a letter to Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young.
“Moreover, the countries identified as potential recipients include some of the most corrupt countries in the world, with El Salvador and Guatemala ranking in the top ten,” the Republicans wrote in the letter obtained by Fox News.
Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the ranking Republicans on the House Oversight and House Budget committees, questioned the administration’s solution to the problem.
“In the midst of a border crisis propelled by the Biden administration reversing successful deterrent policies, it is worrisome that the administration’s solution isn’t to reinstate those policies or replace them with workable solutions, but instead to funnel more money to pay countries to dissuade their citizens to break U.S. laws, particularly countries with corruption concerns,” the letter says.
Vice President Kamala Harris last week, during a call with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, pledged the United States would send an additional $310 million in aid to the Northern Triangle countries.
“In light of the dire situation and acute suffering faced by millions of people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Vice President Harris announced an additional $310 million in U.S. government support for humanitarian relief and to address food insecurity,” Harris’ chief spokeswoman and senior adviser Symone Sanders said in a statement.
Of the $310 million, $255 million will go toward humanitarian relief while $55 million will address food insecurity in the region.
Last month, Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern border coordinator, said the Biden White House was mulling sending cash payments to the Central American countries, that would be targeted at residents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Reuters reported.
Citizens of those countries represent the bulk of the migrants making the trek to the US.
“We’re looking at all of the productive options to address both the economic reasons people may be migrating, as well as the protection and security reasons,” Jacobson told Reuters.
Jacobson has since stepped down from her post.
In the same report, the US Agency for International Development said it was already using cash transfers to “help people meet their basic needs,” following back-to-back hurricanes in the region in late 2020.
The president, as part of the US Citizenship Act of 2021, has also proposed investing $4 billion “to address the underlying causes of immigration” in the Northern Triangle, on the condition that those countries reduce poverty, corruption and gang violence that cause people to flee.
Comer and Smith said Biden’s discretionary budget for FY 2022 requests $861 million in financial assistance to examine the “root causes” of “irregular” immigration — the first payment toward that $4 billion.
The GOP lawmakers suggested Biden leverage aid as the Trump administration did to secure border agreements but noted that the Biden administration ended many of them.
Instead of looking for the “root causes,” they say Biden should reinstate those cooperative pacts.
“President Biden should reinstate President Trump’s cooperative asylum agreements with Northern Triangle countries, utilize the Migrant Protection Protocols, end catch and release, and maximize his authority to expel illegal immigrants during the pandemic,” Comer told Fox News.
“Paying people to not commit a crime sends the wrong message, harms hardworking American taxpayers, and does nothing to end the border crisis,” he continued.
“Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars are already being spent as a result of the Biden Border Crisis even while the President’s budget request holds funding flat for the Department of Homeland Security,” Smith said.
“Rather than searching around for more misguided policies to pile on to their existing failures, President Biden and his team ought to look at what was working before they came into office.”
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