Biden’s “Naive” Plan: Send Cash to Central America To Stop Migration

"Joe Biden" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Republicans are questioning Biden’s plan to send cash payments to Central America as part of a strategy to combat the “root causes” of the migrant crisis. 

The House Oversight and Budget Committees through Rep. James Comer and Jason Smith, expressed their concerns about Biden administration’s plan for a “conditional cash transfer program” to address the “root causes” in Central America leading to the border crisis.

In a letter to Acting Office Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, Commer and Smith wrote, “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.”

Last month, Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s outgoing southern border coordinator told Rueters about the proposal and said that it would be targeted at Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These three Northern Triangle countries that are the source of much of the migration coming to the border.

Jacobson said, “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.”

However, she did not say who would receive the cash or how it would be distributed. But the White House officer promised that the Biden administration “isn’t going to be handing out money or checks to people.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) told Reuters it is already using cash transfers in Central America “to help people meet their basic needs” after recent hurricanes and is considering expanding such measures.

The Republican lawmakers also wrote, “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.” They added, “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.”

Biden has proposed a major financial injections into Central American countries, pushing a $4 Billion plan to invest in what he calls as “root causes” of the crisis such as gang violence, climate and economic intability. These proposals were mentioned both in the 2020 campaign and in office. 

“P20210311AS-0383” ( United States government work) by The White House

Comer and Smith noted that Biden’s discretionary budget request includes $861 million in financial assistance to address “root causes” of “irregular” migration which the request calls a first step toward that $4 billion.

Accordingly, the Republican lawmakers stated that the previous Trump administration leveraged the use of this aid to secure border agreements, such as Asylum Cooperative Agreements that the Biden administration has ended.

Comer and Smith wrote, “the Biden administration has simply announced this ‘commitment’ with apparently no strings attached.”

Instead of addressing the so called “root causes” the GOP lawmakers call on Biden to bring back Trump-era policies such as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) nd the cooperative agreements.

Comer told Fox News that Biden should reinstate Trump’s cooperative asylum agreements with Northern Triangle countries, use the Migrant Protection Protocols, end catch and release, and maximize his authority to expel illegal immigrants during the pandemic.” He added, “Paying people to not commit a crime sends the wrong message, harms hardworking American taxpayers, and does nothing to end the border crisis.”

Smith said, “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,” He added, “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.”