President Joe Biden is moving forward with his plan to send $4 billion to Central American nations as a way to avert migration from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala into the U.S., according to the president of Mexico.
Biden spoke with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday, according to a White House statement.
The White House readout of the call said Biden spoke about “reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies.”
Obrador had worked with Trump to implement policies that required migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico while their cases were processed. A report in The New York Times framed the Mexican president as a “fan” of former President Donald Trump.
“I must mention that we do have a very good relationship with the now [former] president of your country, Mr. Donald Trump,” López Obrador said, according to The Times, which cited “two people with knowledge of the call” as its sources. “Regardless of any other considerations, he respects our sovereignty.”
The statement on Friday’s call said Biden “outlined his plan to reduce migration by addressing its root causes,” but it was left to López Obrador to fill in the details.
The $4 billion plan was mentioned by Biden on his campaign website, which provided few details about how the money would be spent, other than that the plan would address “poverty reduction and economic development” while fighting “endemic corruption.”
“To pay for this investment in the future of our region, Biden will reprioritize money away from the Department of Homeland Security’s budget for detention, which has skyrocketed under Trump’s inhumane and unnecessary policies, in favor of more effective and cost-efficient alternatives to detention. The savings from not locking migrants away like criminals or separating families will be much better used to improve conditions in the region and help people feel safe in their home countries,” Biden’s campaign website stated.
López Obrador said in a statement that his conversation with Biden was “friendly and respectful.”
“We discussed issues related to migration, COVID-19 and cooperation for development and welfare,” he said, according to the Guardian. “Everything indicates that relations will be good for the good of our people.”
The White House statement said Biden “outlined his plan to reduce migration by addressing its root causes, increasing resettlement capacity and lawful alternative immigration pathways, improving processing at the border to adjudicate requests for asylum, and reversing the previous administration’s draconian immigration policies.”
“The two leaders agreed to work closely to stem the flow of irregular migration to Mexico and the United States, as well as to promote development in the Northern Triangle of Central America. They also recognized the importance of coordination to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
A statement on Biden’s immigration proposal he wants Congress to pass said that his $4 billion Central American project “also creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, including by establishing Designated Processing Centers throughout Central America to register and process displaced persons for refugee resettlement and other lawful migration avenues — either to the United States or other partner countries.”
“The bill also re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions,” the statement said.
Ariel Ruiz Soto, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, said $4 billion is a nice start, but only that, according to Time.
He said the money was “an upgrade, and it will have significant consequences. But it is only going to be effective if it’s sustainable over decades … it can’t be just four years, it can’t be eight years, it has to be sustained.”
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