US Vice President Kamala Harris announced investment commitments in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador from a dozen companies and organizations on Thursday as part of President Joe Biden’s administration’s plans to address root causes of migration in Central America.
Participants in the new program include corporate giants Mastercard and Microsoft, as well as Pro Mujer, a nonprofit that focuses on providing assistance to low-income women in Latin America, along with the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Foro World Economic.
Harris issued what his office described as a “call to action” for companies and organizations to make new commitments to promote economic opportunity in Central America. In an event to announce the initiative, Harris declared that private companies have “a very significant role in creating jobs and promoting economic opportunity, and generating long-term development.”
Leaders of the initiative accompanied Harris on Thursday virtually and in person for the event in his ceremonial office.
Luis von Ahn, CEO of the language learning app Duolingo, said in a blog Thursday that some 500,000 people in the Northern Triangle region already use the free Duolingo app, largely to learn English and improve their employability.
The company also offers a $ 49 online English proficiency test accepted by several universities in the United States and elsewhere and, as part of the White House appeal, said it will not charge many Central Americans for the test.
Von Ahn said that he grew up in Guatemala City in the 1980s and 1990s at a “particularly insecure time in the history of my country,” but I was fortunate enough to be able to go to a good school and come to the United States for higher education.
The goal of the new project is to focus assistance on supporting vulnerable populations, such as women and youth, and investing in internet access, job training programs, and fighting food shortages.
The initiative is part of Harris’s role in addressing root causes of migration to the United States, a task Biden tasked him with in March. Harris has had several calls with the presidents of Guatemala and Mexico, and has met with interest groups, legal experts, and businesses in the region.
She plans to visit Guatemala and Mexico in early June, her first trip abroad as vice president.
Harris has emphasized the need for economic development in the region and for public-private partnerships to address the challenges in the area. The government supports a proposal to provide $ 7 billion in assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to help address the poverty and violence that cause people to flee to the United States.
But the surge in migration at the border has turned into a major political headache for Harris and Biden. Republicans accuse them of failing to take action in what they say is a crisis created in part by the president’s decision to halt construction of the US-Mexico border wall and by ending some restrictions on people seeking asylum.
April was the second month with the most transit of unaccompanied minors found at the border since the record was kept, only surpassed by March. And the total number of people the Border Patrol encountered in April increased 3% from March, the most since April 2000.
The April encounters are not directly comparable because most were quickly expelled from the United States under the protection of powers. pandemic-related federal laws that deny people the right to seek asylum, and since their removal carries no legal penalty, many try to cross multiple times.
The increase in migration has tested the ability of the Border Patrol and the Department of Health and Human Services, which detains minors in shelters until they can be sent with relatives or patrons in the United States while authorities determine if they have the right legal to stay in the country, either through asylum or for some other reason. It has also drawn criticism from Republicans, who point to Harris and Biden’s decision not to visit the border to analyze the situation as evidence of their negligence.
Although migration will be central to Harris’s visit, cooperation on security issues will also be discussed. On Thursday, David Cohen, deputy director of the CIA, scheduled meetings in Mexico City with officials from the National Defense, the Navy and the National Intelligence Center of Mexico.
Mexico’s Congress passed a law in December that restricts US agents in Mexico and lifted their diplomatic immunity. Experts say these restrictions could affect the security relationship with the United States, which provides much of Mexico’s intelligence on drug trafficking and money laundering cases.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.