Vice President Kamala Harris recently announced nearly a billion dollars in U.S. investment in Central America in an effort to stem a migration crisis that has been a recurring issue for President Joe Biden’s administration.
Harris announced on Feb. 6 that the U.S. private sector had committed more than $950 million to creating economic opportunities in Central America, according to a White House statement. Ten companies are involved, including Target, Nestle, and Columbia Sportswear Company.
The money will “help address the root causes of migration” by “creating jobs, connecting people to the digital economy, expanding access to financing for small businesses, providing training and education for youth and workers, and improving economic livelihoods for people in the region,” the statement said.
The new commitments mean a total of more than $4.2 billion has been pledged since May 2021 as part of Harris’ Partnership for Central America initiative, according to the statement.
The pledges come as encounters between migrants and U.S. border agents recently reached their highest levels in two decades after spiking from a historic low in April 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.
Allegations of an out-of-control situation on the U.S.-Mexico border have hounded Biden nearly since he took office. Early in his tenure, Biden selected Harris to lead the administration’s response to challenges at the southern border.
Migrants have in recent years originated from the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. But as of January, most Border Patrol encounters were with migrants from countries outside Mexico and the Northern Triangle, according to Pew.
In a speech announcing the new investment pledges, Harris said that in addition to addressing the “root causes of migration, we must also – and this is absolutely a guiding principle – promote good governance, reduce violence, and empower women.”