Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday said she has spoken to leaders of countries such as Japan, Finland and Ireland about helping Northern Triangle countries, as part of the response to the migration crisis at the southern U.S. border.
Harris, speaking at the Washington Conference on the Americas, was outlining the investments the U.S. was making to tackle what she described as the “root causes” of the migration crisis.
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She said the Biden administration was engaging in a “comprehensive strategy” with other governments, communities and the private sector. The U.S. has announced a $310 million investment in the region, as part of a broader $4 billion plan for the area.
“There is a role for governments outside of the region and international institutions,” she said, citing the U.S.’ efforts at the U.N. in coordinating a humanitarian response.
“I have spoken with world leaders from Canada, Finland, Ireland and Japan about partnering with us to help the Northern Triangle,” she said.
Harris spoke with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö last week. A readout from the call said that the two spoke about “the need for more coordinated international action to address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle.”
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The Biden administration has been emphasizing the role that “root causes” play in the migrant surge toward the border, which has overwhelmed authorities and seen historic spikes on unaccompanied children in particular.
In the same speech, Harris made a distinction between “acute causes” like drought, food insecurity and COVID-19 and “long-standing” root causes.
“I’m thinking of corruption, violence and poverty, the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of climate adaptation and climate resilience, the lack of good governance,” she said.
While she didn’t go into details immediately, later she spoke of delivering food, shelter and water to the people of Honduras, and in Guatemala working with farmers to plant drought-resistant crops and help women farmers increase their crops.
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Critics have said that instead, the focus should be on the Biden administration’s border and immigration policies, which has rolled back a number of Trump-era security measures — including the wall, asylum agreements and the application of Title 42 expulsions.
Harris has held “virtual meetings” with the leaders of Guatemala and Mexico and is planning a trip to Guatemala next month.