Dec 18, 2018

U.S. pledges billions of dollars of aid to Central America and Mexico

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images

Two months after President Trump threatened to withhold aid from Central American countries for failing to stop a migrant caravan heading toward the U.S. border, the administration has pledged $5.8 billion worth of private and public development funding for Central America and $4.8 billion for southern Mexico, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The goal of the aid is to promote more stable security and economic conditions to encourage potential migrants to stay in their host nations instead of making the dangerous trip to the U.S. border. It's not yet clear if Mexico will provide anything in return for the billions of dollars worth of aid. The Washington Post has previously reported that Mexico and the U.S. have been working on a deal that would force all U.S. asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico until their applications are processed.

Go deeper

Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

Go deeperArrow16 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 40 mins ago - Health

Wisconsin may be the start of the 2020 election wars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wisconsin voters braving lines in face masks — after a last-minute Supreme Court ruling against extending the absentee deadline — could foreshadow a nationwide legal struggle over how to conduct elections during the coronavirus outbreak, election experts say.

Why it matters: "It's a harbinger of what's to come in the next skirmishes in the voting wars" from now through November, Richard Hasen, a professor and national election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Axios.