By: Amy Jo Underwood
House Republicans have expressed concern at reports that the Biden Administration is planning to send cash payments to Central American countries in an effort to combat the “root causes” of the border crisis. The White House denied claims that the administration would be handing out cash payments, and states that the Biden administration is attempting to address the root causes of the border crisis, including economic hardship in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras).
Rep. James Comer (R-MO) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-KY), ranking members on the House Oversight and Budget committees, wrote a letter to the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, criticizing reports that the Biden Administration is considering sending cash payments to Central America in an attempt to solve the crisis at the border.
President Biden has proposed investing $4 billion to tackle the “root causes” behind the surge from countries in the Northern Triangle. Vice President Harris promised the president of Guatemala last week that the U.S. would send $310 million in additional aid to the Northern Triangle countries.
The Biden Administration has denied accusations that it’s attempting to buy its way out of the border crisis.
"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," stated Roberta Jacobson, the White House outgoing southern border coordinator. "The one thing I can promise you is the U.S. government isn't going to be handing out money or checks to people." Jacobson has since stepped down from her position.
The U.S. Agency for International Development told Reuters that it is already using cash transfers in Central America "to help people meet their basic needs” after natural disasters, and is considering expanding their use to include battling the economic and immigration crises facing the Northern Triangle countries.
The House committee members warned against investing more money into the region, stating, "The strategy of sending cash payments to foreign countries to stem the tide of illegal immigration caused by Biden administration policies is naive and misguided. Moreover, the countries identified as potential recipients include some of the most corrupt countries in the world, with El Salvador and Guatemala ranking in the top ten."
If the Biden Administration chooses to send additional cash payments to these Central American countries, it will likely end up in the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats instead of those who are in need. As Comer and Smith point out in their letter, handing out cash to countries with corrupt governments will only harm those who are in need of real economic aid, enabling further corruption and leaving the impoverished in the same (or worse) condition.
“Paying people to not commit a crime sends the wrong message, harms hardworking American taxpayers, and does nothing to end the border crisis. Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars are already being spent as a result of the Biden Border Crisis even while the President’s budget request holds funding flat for the Department of Homeland Security. Rather than searching around for more misguided policies to pile on to their existing failures, President Biden and his team ought to look at what was working before they came into office.” - Rep. Jason Smith (R-KY), ranking member on the Budget committee