Two Republicans from the House Oversight and Budget committees are scrutinizing one of the Biden administration’s reported plan of sending cash payments to Central America. The said payments form part of the administration’s strategy of addressing the root causes of the border and immigration crisis. The lawmakers say it seems the current administration is buying its way out of the border crisis.
Reps. Jason Smith and James Comer penned a letter addressed to Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. In it, the two lawmakers expressed their concern regarding the Biden administration’s plan of a “conditional cash transfer program” that aims to solve the “root causes” of Central Americans migrating from their home countries.
In the letter, the two representatives wrote that they found how the Biden administration plans to use the payment as a solution instead of reinstating old policies or creating new policies that work.
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Last month, Roberta Jacobson, the outgoing southern border coordinator of the White House, talked to Reuters regarding the proposal. She revealed that the proposals would target El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Most of the people migrating to the U.S. border come from these Northern Triangle countries.
According to Jacobson, they are reviewing all possible productive options that can solve both the “economic reasons” and the “security reasons” migrants have.
She, however, did not mention who would receive the payments nor how it would work exactly. However, Jacobson did promise that the government doesn’t plan on “handing out money or checks to people.”
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USAID told Reuters that it has already started using cash transfers in Central America. The payments come in an effort to help individuals “meet their basic needs” following recent hurricanes that devastated the area. It is also thinking about expanding these measures.
The lawmakers also said that the Biden administration is using “naive and misguided” steps to solve the issue. It also noted that the recipients of the payments include two of the “most corrupt countries in the world” as El Salvador and Guatemala are both in the top 10.
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This is not new to President Joe Biden. He has proposed providing payments to Central American countries before. He has done it both while in office and during the 2020 campaign. Biden has proposed to invest $4 billion in addressing the “root causes” of the crisis. These include economic instability, gang violence, and climate.
Comer and Smith pointed out in their letter that the president’s request for the FY 2022 discretionary budget has $861 million in financial assistance. It aims to address the “root causes” of “irregular migration.”
In their letter, the two compared this to how the Trump administration leveraged using aid. The previous administration used it to secure border agreements, including the Asylum Cooperative agreement that the Biden administration decided to end.
Comer and Smith then called on the president to reinstate Trump-era policies that worked, such as the Migrant Protection protocols, instead of tackling “root causes.”
The letter also asks for all documents and communications connected to the payments to include statements that would discourage migration.
The two House Republicans penned the letter following a claim that the president made. Biden said that they have “gotten control” of the border crisis and blamed his predecessor for the mess. The Pentagon, meanwhile, revealed that it had stopped border wall construction projects that military money paid for.