Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen are visiting Guatemala to meet with its president along with leaders of El Salvador and Honduras. Most of the migrant families apprehended lately at the U.S.-Mexico border have come from these countries. For some insight on this meeting, Michael Shifter was interviewed by NPR.
Comments by Michael Shifter:
“Before the Trump administration, under the Obama administration, the Republican-controlled Congress adopted a program called the Alliance for Prosperity that’s $750 million a year to – aimed at trying to reduce the violence, promote economic development and increase – strengthen institutions. […] This was an effort really to deal with the root causes about migration that were provoked because of the 2014 – the unaccompanied children across the border crisis of that summer. And this was the response to that. And the vice president, Biden, under Obama, like Vice President Pence today under President Trump, is playing a leading role in trying to deal with this situation.”
“There’s been a reduction in funding from about the 750 million to about 600 million, and that’s thanks largely to Congress that – where there is a bipartisan commitment to sustaining that support. And clearly the administration wanted sharper cuts, but the Congress came back and restored at least some level even though it’s down below what was there before.”
“President Trump himself has threatened to withhold all the aid until these governments really are able to contain the situation in their countries. But I’m not sure that that – those kind of warnings are really going to go over very well. They’re not going to work. The tone and the style I think creates some resentment in the region, and clearly they’re worried about what’s happening to many of their – of the younger migrants that have – that are – and that have been separated from their parents on the border as well. So it’s a very, very tricky situation.”
“I would hope that the – that Vice President Pence and the Trump administration acknowledged shared responsibility for this situation. The – if this is going to be resolved, it’s going to take a long time, and it means that the United States has to step up as well in terms of the – dealing with the drug problem, which is a international problem, the arms supply, which – international problem, and other issues. So both sides have to do their part.”