Biden has proposed sending aid funds to several Central American countries to help address the root causes of immigration from the region.
Republican lawmakers are slamming President Joe Biden's plan to tackle immigration from Central America, suggesting that giving aid to impoverished and disaster-ridden nations is not an effective strategy for addressing the issue, all while blaming him for not doing enough.
On Monday, Republican Reps. James Comer (KY) and Jason Smith (MO), ranking members on the House Oversight and Budget Committees, penned a letter to Shalanda D. Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, to complain about the Biden administration's efforts to address root causes of immigration from Central America.
"In the midst of a border crisis propelled by the Biden administration reversing successful deterrent policies, it is worrisome that the administration's solution isn't to reinstate those policies or replace them with workable solutions, but instead funnel more money to pay countries to dissuade their citizens to break U.S. laws," they wrote. "In fact, the 'root causes' of the current border crisis are the Biden administration's reckless rhetoric and policies."
Other Republicans joined in the criticism.
"Trump: Let's secure our border, enforce our laws, and incentivize legal immigration. Biden: Let’s send cash to corrupt Central American countries from which millions are fleeing," tweeted Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Monday.
The same day, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) tweeted, "Rather than reinstate successful policies to address illegal immigration, President Biden has proposed to send billions of dollars to Central American countries. This money does not deter illegal immigrants; it encourages more to break the law."
Biden's proposal includes a conditional cash transfer program to provide critical aid to residents of the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Outgoing White House border coordinator Roberta Jacobson told Reuters in early April, "The one thing I can promise you is the U.S. government isn't going to be handing out money or checks to people."
"We're looking at all of the productive options to address both the economic reasons people may be migrating, as well as the protection and security reasons," she added.
The plan is part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to take on underlying factors that have created an increase in immigration from Central America in recent years.
On April 9, Biden sent a discretionary budget request to Congress requesting $861 million as part of a $4-billion-over-four-years strategy to address immigration more broadly.
"These resources would allow the United States to sustain effective regional partnerships and strengthen host government accountability to bolster service delivery and security by curtailing endemic corruption, preventing violence, reducing poverty, and expanding economic development opportunities," the request read.
Biden has also tapped Vice President Kamala Harris to lead diplomatic efforts and collaboration with the Northern Triangle countries to address the causes of immigration. Harris has since held a number of meetings with foreign leaders to discuss the matter.
Republican lawmakers have nonetheless been critical of the Biden administration over its immigration policies, suggesting the president isn't doing enough on the issue or comparing him to Donald Trump, whose harsh policies they claim did more to address the subject.
Specifically, many have claimed Biden is ignoring a growing immigration "crisis" — one experts say does not actually exist — stemming from a bump in asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors being apprehended at the southern border. The lawmakers suggest that Biden's decision to reverse draconian Trump policies that led to higher numbers of deportations and thousands of family separations are instead luring people to the United States with the promise of safety.
"With every passing day, the Biden administration’s silence on the crisis at the border becomes more deafening," Smith tweeted on April 17. He tweeted again on April 24, "The Biden administration continues to blatantly ignore the border crisis that is of their own making."
Comer tweeted on March 26, "The #BidenBorderCrisis is a huge problem Joe Biden has that he is obviously not taking seriously. He has no plan to control the surge." And on April 2, he tweeted again, "Joe Biden's absence from the border speaks volumes."
"What will it take for them to take border security seriously?" Biggs tweeted on April 7.
In a separate tweet on April 14, he wrote, "We're going to the border, we're seeing first-hand what Biden is ignoring. This can no longer be called incompetence, this is by design."
While the Republican lawmakers lament Biden's approach to immigration solutions, voters overwhelmingly support his plan to address the "root causes" of the issue.
A recent Civiqs/Immigration Hub poll found that 85% of voters believe the U.S. government should work more closely with other countries to reduce immigration before it starts, with 87% of Republican and 86% of Democratic voters in agreement.
Furthermore, experts have said it is "imperative" for the Biden administration to address the issue.
As Charles T. Call, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, noted, "Root causes have only worsened in the past few years, thanks largely to nefarious nonstate actors and corrupt and exclusionary states. Economic problems, ongoing violence, worsening corruption, and challenges to democracy have been aggravated by the devastating impact of the coronavirus."
The American Friends and Service Committee has also urged the Biden administration to do more to address root causes, adding that it "must build true international cooperation with governments to transform conditions so all people can live with dignity where they choose—while affirming the human right to migrate and seek asylum freely."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.