The U.S. State Department announced on Tuesday a total of $10.6 billion in aid for southern Mexico and $5.8 billion in aid for Central America as the Trump administration continues to struggle to find funding for President Donald Trump's border wall — a top promise from his presidential campaign.
"The U.S aid aims to promote better security conditions and job opportunities as part of a regional plan to allow Central Americans and Mexicans to remain in their countries and not have to emigrate," the Associated Press reported. "The combination of public and private investment for the stay-at-home effort doesn’t require congressional approval, unlike Trump’s signature project to stem illegal immigration — a border wall."
"In sum, I think this is good news, very good news for Mexico," Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said from Mexico's capital.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador weighed in on the plan at a morning press conference before the announcement was made, saying: "I have a dream that I want to see become a reality ... that nobody will want to go work in the United States anymore."
"The U.S. and #Mexico are announcing our intent to take a holistic & coordinated approach to stem illegal migration. Today we announced our commitment to promote a safer & more prosperous Central America and southern Mexico by enhancing security, governance, & economic prosperity," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino wrote on Twitter. "The U.S. is committing to increase the project pipeline for @opicgov if commercially viable projects are identified in Southern Mexico & Northern Triangle. We will also review available financing mechanisms & tools, incl. private sector, multilateral banks, & regional partners."
"In Jan. 2019, we are forming a joint task force and will hold a cabinet-level meeting to align our strategies," Palladino added. "We will co-host a private sector business summit in early 2019 as well. We applaud #Mexico’s announcement of an unprecedented development program for the region."
The announcement comes as the Trump administration signaled on Tuesday that it's "open to negotiating down the price of the border wall, even though President Donald Trump himself made clear last week that he would veto any congressional budget plan that allocated less than $5 billion to his signature immigration reform effort."
"We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion that we’ll work with Congress," Huckabee Sanders told Fox News in an interview. "At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government. We want to shut down the border."