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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Monday, April 22, 2024

White House says plans to address causes of migration show results

WASHINGTON — The White House's strategy for curbing migration to the United States from Central America zeroes in on job creation, economic investment and support for human rights. Biden administration officials say is showing results, but analysts caution against unrealistic expectations. A sharp increase of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border presented a political crisis for President Joe Biden at the beginning of his administration. He asked Vice President Kamala Harris to spearhead a "root causes" strategy, banking heavily on using American investments to improve living conditions in three Central American nations known as the Northern Triangle: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Specialists in migration say reducing irregular migration through investments will take decades. “And I think this administration knows [that],” said Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. “The problem is in the public sphere,” he said, explaining that the public expects to see real-time results in one or two years, “and that just simply is not the case economically, even if we had the investment capacity to do so.” Ruiz Soto says the success of this strategy depends on more than what the White House is doing. It needs governments in the region that are committed to significant improvements. “For example, if Microsoft wanted to set up a hub in Guatemala, they would need not only to include money to build the building, to hire workers, provide training, but also a counterpart allocation from the Guatemalan government to build the roads, to have the infrastructure for the electricity, to have broadband internet,” he said. That it is not something that can be accomplished in just a few years, Ruiz Soto said. Not new The strategy is not new. Under former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, there was a U.S. strategy for engagement in Central America that focused on pillars similar to the five in the Biden administration strategy. “The difference is that they are prioritizing different things, but investing in Central America with the efforts to reduce irregular migration is not new,” Ruiz Soto said. In March, the White House published an updated fact sheet showing $5.2 billion in financial commitments from private organizations. The investment, the White House said, is expected to create economic opportunities in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. “And I think that perhaps the best achievement of the Biden administration has been the investment in Central America has become more localized. It is more targeted, and it has become more realistic. But it has not become less political, because everybody wants results right away, and that's not going to happen,” Ruiz Soto said. Symptom of larger issues Administration officials argue the border situation is a symptom of larger issues. Many migrants are driven to come to the U.S. seeking better economic prospects or to escape violence. Biden officials say fewer individuals would risk the dangerous journey northward if the economic, security and political challenges in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are addressed. “Migration needs to be understood in context — with the number of migrants increasing globally, including from countries that have only recently become so-called migrant source countries,” a U.S. National Security Council spokesperson told VOA by email. They spoke on background, a method often used by U.S. authorities to share information with reporters without being identified. FILE - Migrants walk along a highway in hopes of reaching the distant United States, near Agua Caliente, Guatemala, Jan. 16, 2020, on the border with Honduras. FILE - Migrants walk along a highway in hopes of reaching the distant United States, near Agua Caliente, Guatemala, Jan. 16, 2020, on the border with Honduras. The NSC spokesperson wrote that through the administration’s root-causes program, more than 250,000 jobs have been created in the region, and 3 million young people are being supported through education and job training. “As a result of these investments in the region, we have seen double-digit [percentage] decrease in people from Central America who intend to migrate,” the NSC spokesperson said. Border numbers fluctuate According to an April analysis by the human rights organization Washington Office on Latin America, or WOLA, December saw the highest monthly of apprehensions at the border since 2000, but those numbers dropped by half over the next three months. Some Republicans have criticized Harris’ Central America plan, arguing that it is ineffective or that it focuses too much on foreign aid rather than border security. They say Harris has focused too much on long-term solutions rather than the immediate border migrant flows. Working together In an email to VOA, the NSC spokesperson drew attention to the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection that brought together more than 20 countries across the Western Hemisphere to cooperate on deterring irregular migration through border enforcement in the region, expanded lawful pathways, and expand new measures to address the root causes. “We have begun building the foundation for a more competitive regional economy that will galvanize investment and create better job opportunities throughout the Americas,” the spokesperson said. Ruiz Soto said continuity is key. “The problem is, or at least the way that's been implemented, is that there are differences in how the U.S. is engaging in the region across presidents,” he said. He added that even with U.S. funding, it is not enough to try to improve the situation in these countries by itself. As the United States seeks strategies for responding to the growing number of migrants fleeing poverty, violence and other challenges in the Central American region, Ruiz Soto said governments from the Northern Triangle countries must commit to governance based on accountability, transparency and development. “It is fundamentally required that Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador put in more than what the U.S. does to try to increase the conditions that they have. One, in funding, but also in political assistance and political will to change the institutions,” he said. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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