WASHINGTON – The Biden administration Thursday laid out a series of plans tackling economic insecurity, corruption and other factors in Central America to mitigate migration from the region to the United States.
The plans include addressing economic insecurity and inequality, corruption, promoting human rights, and combating violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The strategy is part of Vice President Kamala Harris’ efforts to address and reduce migration from the Northern Triangle region.
Harris, who was appointed in March to address the root causes of migration, visited Guatemala and Mexico in June. There, she enacted several programs as part of the administration’s strategy. During her trip, she announced an Anticorruption Task Force and an anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling initiative.
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There has been a dramatic increase of migrant children, families and adults coming to the U.S.-Mexico border. In June, the number of migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border by Customs and Border Protection reached a yearly high of 188,829.
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The Biden administration is working with a number of nations to create other legal pathways of migration or temporary protections in those countries.
A senior administration official said the White House isn’t “seeking to end migration” but is “seeking to change the ways in which people migrate,” saying it doesn't want migrants to turn to smugglers or trafficking.
The United States is working with countries like Canada, Costa Rica and Spain to expand access to legal migration pathways. In addition, the United States is hoping to expand methods to allow migrants to come to work in the labor workforce or other resettlement pathways, such as expanding refugee admissions.
The administration also is setting up resource centers in the Northern Triangle that would allow people in those countries to access information and be referred to legal pathways in their own country. A senior administration official conceded that “one of the biggest challenges” they face is finding solutions for people who urgently need to leave their home countries.
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Many of the migrants coming to the United States from Central America, and other countries, are fleeing gang violence, economic troubles exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, as well as political turmoil.
Temporary protections in Mexico, Costa Rica being considered
A senior administration official said the White House is looking to set up temporary protections in neighboring countries like Mexico or Costa Rica for people who urgently need to leave their countries.
The Biden administration has repeatedly told migrants not to come to the United States, saying the border is closed.
The majority of migrants, with the exception of children and some families, coming to the U.S.-Mexico border are being turned away under Title 42, a policy that allows Customs and Border Protection to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of the virus in holding facilities.
New strategy follows 21-point immigration plan
Earlier this week, the Biden administration released a 21-point immigration plan, which included renewing an expedited removal process for some immigrants and allowing asylum officers to adjudicate asylum claims for those arriving at the border.
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In a statement released Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said that certain family units who are unable to be expelled under Title 42 will now be placed in expedited removal proceedings. The department noted that crossing between a port of entry or avoiding inspection at ports of entry “is the wrong way to come to the United States.”
“These acts are dangerous and can carry long-term immigration consequences for individuals who attempt to do so,” DHS said in the announcement.
Expedited removal proceedings were created during the Clinton administration and have been used by both Republican and Democratic administrations. The expedited process allows immigration authorities to remove individuals and families without a hearing before an immigration judge.
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The announcement of the Biden administration renewing the process was met with backlash from immigration activists.
Jess Morales Rocketto, co-founder of Families Belong Together, said in a statement Tuesday that the White House’s announcement “continues to hold up the xenophobia of President Trump and Stephen Miller.”
“This policy is a fast track to deport children and families to the very danger they were fleeing and puts lives at risk,” Morales Rocketto said in the statement. “The Biden administration promised to restore the U.S. commitment to a fair, humane, and functional immigration system, but they are leveraging the complicated and broken immigration system with one goal: expelling those in need to score political points.”
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Immigration: White House details new Central America strategy