Vice President Kamala Harris emerged from her long period of silence on the border crisis Tuesday to announce the private sector would throw nearly $2 billion more at Central America — even as thousands of migrants from the region make their way toward the US-Mexico frontier.
The White House framed the $1.9 billion investment plan as the latest attempt to tackle what it calls the “root causes” of mass economic migration to the US.
Initiatives include a $700 million expansion of cellular networks in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador by Miami-based Millicom; a $270 million commitment by Visa to promote digital payments; and a $110 million investment by auto parts supplier Yazaki to hire more than 14,000 employees in Guatemala and El Salvador by the end of 2026.
Whatever the long-term effect of the investment plan, however, it is not expected to affect the caravan currently trekking through Mexico.
On Monday, at least 6,000 people set off from Tapachula, Mexico, marching north with hopes to cross into the US.
Estimates about the official size of the caravan vary. Organizer Luis Villigran told Fox News on Monday that the caravan stretched more than 32 miles and estimated that 9,500 people were taking part.
While the Guardian reported last week that about 11,000 people were part of the caravan and suggested their number could swell as high as 15,000, the Mexican government has neither provided an official estimate of the caravan’s size nor made any public comment about it.
In December, Harris announced an initial $1.2 billion in private-sector investments in Central America — enlisting Pepsi, Cargill, Mastercard and other major US corporations to help create jobs in the region.
Harris — as well as the Biden administration as a whole — has been repeatedly criticized for not doing enough to stop mass migration as the number of attempted border crossings soars.
Republicans reiterated their criticism Monday with the news of the latest caravan approaching the US.
“President Biden’s open-border agenda incentivizes lawlessness,” the House GOP tweeted from its official account Monday. “A country without secure borders is not a country.”
In April alone, border officials reported a new high of 234,088 encounters at the southern border, with just under 97,000 people summarily expelled under Title 42 and more than 110,000 released into the US.
“A true border czar must be a leader who acknowledges that border security is national security, provides CBP with the resources they have been deprived of, takes action to protect American communities from lethal narcotics, and doesn’t allow border security policy decisions to be guided by open borders activists,” Mark Morgan, former US Border Patrol chief under the Obama administration and US Customs and Border Protection head under former President Donald Trump, told The Post.
Even fellow Democrats have blasted the seemingly limited efforts by the veep.
“I say this very respectfully to her: I moved on,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told the New York Times in December. “She was tasked with that job, it doesn’t look like she’s very interested in this, so we are going to move on to other folks that work on this issue.”