USA and the UK
In an effort to prevent a US immigration surge, the Biden administration is reportedly planning to make cash payments to Central American governments.
A report by Reuters said the US government is considering a “conditional cash transfer program” to help solve the economic issues that ultimately lead to people in the region wanting to travel to America.
While the idea seems to make sense on paper, predictably it’s one that’s caused anger among Republicans with some members of the party describing the new plan as “madness”.
It’s believed the program will target countries within the so-called ‘Northern Triangle’, which includes El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In an exclusive interview with Reuters, the southern border co-ordinator, Roberta Jacobson, confirmed the plan is currently in the pipeline, although she declined to confirm exactly which countries would receive the cash if and when the proposal is eventually pushed through.
Influx at the borders
News of the plan comes hot on the heels of reports that around 168,000 people were picked up at the border by US immigration official in the month of March. The number was the highest recorded in 20 years, and the steady increase over the last few months has raised alarm bells and forced the Biden administration into action.
The influx of migrants has seen the White House send officials to the border and an envoy to each of the Northern Triangle countries. Moreover, FEMA and even NASA have been drafted in to help deal with the surge in people needing to be processed at the border after complaints many of those arriving were being held for longer than the 3-day limit permitted by US law.
The spike in migrants arriving was predictably met with criticism by Republicans. Last week, Senator Bill Cassidy blamed Biden’s shift in policy for encouraging more people to come to the US, telling Fox News: “Empirically, it is entirely (Biden’s fault). You can’t help but notice that as the administration changes, then there’s a surge.
“At what point here are we going to accept that Biden is already having a damaging impact on our borders? After barely three months, we’re already seeing more numbers now than we ever saw under the Trump administration. I dread to think what the numbers will look like in months, years to come.”
COVID vaccine plan
As well as the cash payments, the Biden administration is also planning to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to its southern neighbours, to curtail the threat of increased infections from across the border.
As the US finally gets to grips with the pandemic, the White House is keen to make sure migrants from Central America don’t cause cases to jump up again, although Jacobson said as of yet, no firm decision has been made on this. However, she did say the administration was looking at how the White House can help to contain the virus in Central America.
“We are looking at a number of options, and yes, one of those involves offering vaccinations. Not only will that help to deal with infections in the region, but it’ll protect the US in the event anyone with the virus attempts to make their way into the country. This will be about taking care of everyone.”
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Biden administration set to hand out cash to prevent migrant influx [Image credit: Pexels]