Migrant Caravans Continue Trek North, Harris Pushes Economic Investment In Central America
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and members of the White House Covid-19 Response Team on the Omicron variant in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. Covid-19 hospital admissions are rising quickly in many parts of the eastern U.S., including New Jersey and Connecticut, two weeks after U.S. residents gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

As migrant caravans continue to march north through Mexico, Vice President Kamala Harris continues to push for private companies to invest more in Central American countries to the “root cause of migration from Central America.” 

According to the White House, Harris “announced seven new commitments as part of the Call to Action she launched on May 27 for businesses and social enterprises to make new, significant commitments to sustainably address the root causes of migration by promoting economic opportunity.”

The seven companies cited by the White House for stepping up their foreign economic investment include CARE International, Cargill, Grupo Mariposa, Parkdale Mills, PepsiCo, JDE Peet’s, and PriceSmart. 

Mastercard, Microsoft, and Nespresso are also increasing their economic investment in Central America as well. 

The White House claims that Harris’s plan, with the apparent hope of cutting down on surges of illegal crossings at the southern border, has led to more than a billion dollars of economic investment in Central America.

“The Vice President announced these new commitments during her closing remarks at a virtual event co-hosted by the State Department and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Partnership for Central America, drawing over 1,300 business, government and civil society leaders from across the region and the United States,” the White House stated. 

Some of the planned investment is coming in the form of job training while other investment includes supporting the development of infrastructure. Many of the companies have also promised to make diversity a component of their programs. 

Nespresso said it would be cognizant of “climate change” and “gender equity.”

“Nespresso will also pilot an innovative crop insurance program designed to help protect farmers against the effects of climate change during next year’s harvest,” the White House noted, “To help empower women and raise the percentage of female farmers, Nespresso has provided its agronomists—41% of whom are women—with training focused on gender equity.”

CARE International, which has committed to $50 million to support gender equity, will make sure that “companies joining the Call to Action with technical assistance to ensure that a gender-based lens is applied to new programs and investment.”

Some analysts have expressed skepticism at the vice president’s “root causes” approach. 

“[Funding] to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is not likely do much good, either. The United States has been sending money to those countries for decades, and as the foregoing shows, migration from each has just increased over time,” wrote Andrew Arthur at the Center for Immigration Studies. 

Arthur argued that the best deterrent was to enforce immigration law in its current form. 

The push for private investment in many Central American countries comes as migrant caravans continue to push north through Mexico, even halting traffic on highways. 

“Hundreds of migrants walking towards Mexico City on Thursday brought traffic to a halt at an important highway connecting the capital and the central state of Puebla,” Reuters reported last week. 

Biden has seen surges at the border throughout his administration, with record numbers of encounters over the summer. After a court ruling, the “Remain in Mexico” policy, a Trump-era rule, was reinstated and just went back into effect last week with two migrants being sent from El Paso, Texas, back to Mexico.

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