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Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Thursday a strategy to reduce illegal immigration from Central America, which, in addition to combating corruption and violence in the places of origin, includes the support of other governments and American companies.
The plan focuses on Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, countries that make up the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America, from where the largest flow of migrants seeking to reach the United States originate.
Harris admitted in a statement that the commitment of the United States “has often not been consistent” and “has failed to work in the region.”
Hence, she will base his strategy on five key pillars such as addressing economic insecurity; combating corruption; strengthening democratic governance and promoting the rule of law; and promoting respect for human rights, labor rights and press freedom.
It will also counter and prevent violence, extortion and other crimes perpetrated by criminal gangs, human trafficking networks and other organized crime organizations, and fight sexual, gender and domestic violence.
The initiative, which Harris described as “far-reaching,” focuses “on partnerships with other governments, international institutions, businesses, foundations and civil society.
The Vice President assured that she has already received commitments from Mexico, Japan, South Korea and the United Nations to “provide relief to the region”.
To differentiate this new strategy from the one promoted by former President Barack Obama (2009-2017) with similar objectives, Harris stressed that her administration will work more with the private sector, a partner that has been “underused” in the past. However, she did not clarify what such a partnership would look like or what the focus of the partnership would be.
Harris took on the mission of reducing migration from Central America last March, which took her to Guatemala and Mexico last June.
During a conference call, the Department of State’s special envoy for the Northern Triangle, Ricardo Zúñiga, stressed the importance of including the private sector in the strategy.
“We are prepared to work with those who are prepared to work with us in combating corruption and impunity,” he explained.
On the decision to halt cooperation with Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor’s Office following the removal of that country’s anti-corruption prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, Zúñiga ratified Washington’s position.
“We made it very clear in our response that we lost confidence in Guatemala’s attorney general (Consuelo Porras) as a partner in the effort to combat corruption,” he said.
According to the official, the protests that have ensued in Guatemala following Sandoval’s removal, “are a reflection of the profound importance that the citizens of Central America place on good governance and accountability.”
U.S. President Joe Biden included in the budget for fiscal year 2022 (October 2021-September 2022) an investment of $861 million to address the causes of irregular immigration, according to official figures.