Will Billions More in Foreign Aid Stop Mass Migration?

President Joe Biden has wasted no time implementing his immigration platform. While much of his agenda encourages additional illegal immigration, the Biden administration is promoting an initiative that he claims will reduce illegal migration from Central America.

According to the Associated Press, Biden consulted with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to discuss distributing $4 billion for the development of the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The administration’s purpose behind increasing funds is to focus on the factors that spur mass migration from Central America.

Citizens of these three nations, known as the “Northern Triangle,” comprise the bulk of aliens apprehended at the Southwest Border. The trio of countries is also the area of origin of many migrant caravans.

This tentative move comes on the heels of Biden’s campaign pledge to pour billions of American taxpayer dollars to improve conditions in the Northern Triangle. While the President’s initiative may seem well-intentioned and aimed to curb the flow of mass migration from the Central American region, its potential effectiveness should be scrutinized.

A 2019 analysis conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies measured the correlation between foreign aid and border crossings by aliens from the Northern Triangle between 2011 and 2017. The study showed that while U.S. money flowing into these countries has increased, immigration has not significantly decreased. This indicates that American foreign aid is not helping these countries enough that resident are opting to remain in the country.

If President Biden truly intends to reduce illegal immigration, he should look to strategies with proven and swift track records. One policy he should preserve and continue is the Asylum Cooperation Agreements (ACA), which has recruited the Northern Triangle governments to discourage migrants who seek to “asylum shop” their way to the United States. Their combined efforts have led to a decrease in illegal aliens apprehended at the Southwest Border in mere months.

As a condition for aid, President Biden could also require that El Salvador and Honduras fortify their border security to repel migrant caravans from other parts of Central America. Guatemala’s enhanced border protection has proven effective in preventing large and organized groups of migrants from transiting through their country. Proactively dismantling waves of mass migration would be effective in ensuring the president’s goals to reduce illegal immigration are successful.

President Biden has the opportunity to reverse his initial stance of dismantling the ACA. Rather than abandoning effective policies, he should be making additional foreign aid contingent on Central America’s success in reducing unlawful migration, or even rooting out systemic corruption that drives people to migrate en masse. Biden should prioritize sensible immigration policies that produce outcomes that rapidly benefit the American people. 

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