‘Border czar’ Harris says private companies have spent $4.2 BILLION investing in Central America
Private companies have now poured $4.2 billion into northern Central America under the Biden administration, a welcome investment the White House credits to Vice President Kamala Harris’ work to address the ‘root causes’ of migration.
That figure is up from $3.2 billion last year and includes money from retailers like Target and Columbia Sportswear, among around 45 other companies.
The announcement comes just as Harris is expected to meet with business and government leaders in Washington on Monday to launch a new effort called Central America Forward, focused on economic development and labor rights as well as a push to tackle corruption, an administration official said on a call with reporters.
President Biden tapped Harris to lead efforts to reduce migration at the US-Mexico border in March 2021, making her the target of conservative ire as migration figures continued to swell to record highs.
As pressure grew for Harris to visit the border, the White House later clarified Harris was only tasked with addressing ‘root causes’ for migration – like crime and poverty.
Columbia committed to purchasing $200 million in products, creating 6,900 jobs in the region over five years. Millicom committed to investing an additional $350 million in broadband by 2025, in addition to its $700 million commitment for 2023 and 2024.
Nestle and Nescafe committed to supporting more than 7,500 coffee producers, while Honduran Coffee Company and Grupo Cadelga committed to partnering with the US Agency for International Developmenet (USAID) to assist over 10,000 coffee farmers.
Harris focused her efforts on increasing investment in the northern triangle countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Concerns of corruption have led companies to back out of millions of dollars’ worth of investments, however.
Arrivals from northern triangle countries have declined since mid-2021, while migration from other regions has soared.
In December, US officials counted 42,637 encounters with Cubans and 35,389 encounters with Nicaraguans – all-time monthly highs for both nationalities. In total border agents processed nationals from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador only 33,000 times in total.
Border officials had been preparing to end Title 42, a Covid-era CDC emergency order that allowed for immediate expulsion, in December, but the Supreme Court put those plans on hold while it considers a request by GOP-led states that want the Trump- era policy to be left in place.
The announcement comes on the heels of yet another unflattering report about America’s first female and first black and Asian vice president.
The New York Times reported Monday:
‘In private conversations over the last few months, dozens of Democrats in the White House, on Capitol Hill and around the nation — including some who helped put her on the party’s 2020 ticket — said she had not risen to the challenge of proving herself as a future leader of the party, much less the country.
‘Even some Democrats whom her own advisers referred reporters to for supportive quotes confided privately that they had lost hope in her,’ the report added.
While questions arise whether Biden will be up to the task of another term in the White House – which would draw to a close when he is 86 – ‘most’ Democrats privately admit his second-in-command is likely not up to the task either .
‘I can’t think of a thing she’s done except stay out of the way and stand beside him at certain ceremonies,’ John Morgan, a prominent Democratic fundraiser, told the Times.
Harris’ approval rating sits at around 39 percent, according to poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight.
The report notes that Harris ‘all but went into a bunker for about a year’ after a calamitous interview with NBC’s Lester Holt in June 2021.
Harris has a lower approval rating than Biden, which means she could act as a drag on his reelection chances, according to rolling averages of poll results.
‘Do you have any plans to visit the border?’ Holt asked during the VP’s trip to Guatemala, at the time her first international trip of the new administration.
‘We’ve been to the border. So this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border,’ she repeated.
‘You haven’t been to the border,’ Holt pushed back.
‘And I haven’t been to Europe,’ Harris snapped, then quickly turned it into her signature laugh.
‘And I mean, I don’t understand the point that you’re making,’ she said to Holt. ‘I’m not discounting the importance of the border.’
And later that month, she scheduled a trip to El Paso, Texas to tour facilities and say she had been to the border.