Posted on October 15, 2014

U.S. Should Stump Up Billions to Curb Central America Migration: Perez

Dave Graham and Sofia Menchu, Yahoo! News, October 14, 2014

The United States should provide billions of dollars to help Central American nations curb the flow of illegal migrants, Guatemalan President Otto Perez said, and his government warns the problem will get worse if Washington fails to help.

Fleeing violence, trying to reach relatives already in the United States or seeking jobs, record numbers of child migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have been stopped at the southern U.S. border this year, causing widespread alarm.

Last month, the three countries pitched Washington an ambitious development plan to confront the issue.

They want to pump about $10 billion into the region to create jobs and lift living standards, with the bulk of funding coming from the United States, Perez told Reuters.

He hopes the plan could come up with about $2 billion a year from 2015 to 2019, a sum he equated to roughly 10 percent of annual U.S. spending on border security and immigration enforcement.


The package would boost infrastructure and provide more jobs in all three countries, especially in areas that send large numbers of migrants to the United States, he added.

The three Central American governments are urging the United States to shoulder the lion’s share of the costs, arguing that U.S. demand for illegal narcotics has fueled violence among drug gangs across much of the impoverished region.

“The United States has to support this, it has no other option,” Guatemala’s foreign minister, Carlos Morales, told Reuters. “If they don’t support it, the crisis will kick off again, you can count on it.”

Perez said he hoped the United States would put up about 60 percent of funding. “But we’ll have to discuss it calmly and see what each individual country can do, and what can be achieved by common consent.”

During meetings in New York in September, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Central American officials he hoped Congress could approve about $300 million in funding, Morales said, noting the sum was “nothing” given the scale of the problem.


The initiative contains proposals to overhaul energy supply, roads, airports, and other key infrastructure in the region, alongside various other measures.

Known as the “Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle”, it is being seen by some as a more limited version of “Plan Colombia’, under which the U.S. government sent billions of dollars in aid to help Colombia fight drug traffickers and left-wing guerrillas.


Alongside financial backing for the development plan, Guatemala is pushing Washington to grant more concessions to migrants in return for its own efforts to reduce the exodus.

These include more visas for temporary workers and urging U.S. President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to improve rights of certain illegal immigrants with good records in the United States–such as those with U.S.-born children–if Congress fails to pass a stalled immigration reform.