Apr 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Latino lawmakers want new Marshall Plan

Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrive in the U.S. after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Roma, Texas.
Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrive in the U.S. after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Roma, Texas. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Hispanic U.S. House members are pushing for an aggressive, multiyear "Marshall Plan" for Central America to tackle regional violence, corruption and economic devastation.

The big picture: The call for a Central American plan, similar to a U.S. program that rebuilt Western Europe following World War II, comes as both political parties and the Biden administration struggle to find short-term solutions to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The price tag: TBD.

Driving the news: Mexico increased detentions and deportations of migrants last month as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stepped up law enforcement against Central American migrants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Detentions of Central American migrants jumped 32% to 15,800 in March from February. That's more than double compared with March of last year, according to data from Mexico’s immigration agency shared with WSJ.
  • But experts say conditions in Central America will continue to push migrants north, regardless of increased enforcement.

The intrigue: Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus say long-term solutions and financial commitments are needed to address the systemic problems in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

  • Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) told Axios that a Central American Marshall Plan is "one of the fundamental pieces of how the Biden administration addressed the issue of migration from Central America. Without it, I feel we are doomed to repeat the same cycles over and over."
  • Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) also told Axios that a "hemispheric" outreach that included countries like Canada and Panama was required to reshape Central America and the burden shouldn't just rest with the U.S.

Yes, but: House members have stopped short of saying how much is needed and how long the commitment should be.

Details: The Biden administration is proposing to spend more than $800 million next year in Central America to combat violence, poverty and corruption.

The leader of the nation's oldest Latino civil rights organization is traveling to Central America to meet with NGOs and government officials as migrants from the region flee violence and economic devastation.

  • League of United Latin American Citizens national president Domingo Garcia told Axios he will visit El Salvador and Honduras later this month to investigate the humanitarian crisis himself and find out how U.S. Latinos can help.
  • Fernando García, executive director of the El Paso, Texas-based Border Network for Human Rights, said a U.S.-backed Central American Marshall Plan is the morally right thing to do after the U.S. helped create the conditions there, after backing repressive regimes during civil wars.

Don't forget: President Bill Clinton signed an immigration reform bill in 1996 which made it far easier for the U.S. to deport people convicted of minor infractions and crimes committed by lawful permanent residents.

  • The U.S. government then deported thousands of Central American gang members across U.S.-cities. They were the children of refugees who had escaped violence stemming from U.S.-backed civil wars.
  • Those gang members upended quiet, rural towns in Central America, forcing residents there to flee.
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