Republicans are blasting the Biden administration over a report that the White House is considering direct cash payments to Central American countries as a way to ease the current migrant crisis.
The reaction, which some GOP lawmakers have described as “madness,” came after Reuters reported Friday that the administration is looking at a “conditional cash transfer program” to address economic issues in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras which officials say is driving the crisis.
In addition, the plan envisions sending COVID-19 vaccines to Central American nations as well.
Outgoing border czar Roberta Jackson discussed the plan with Reuters, saying the money would be directed specifically towards the three Northern Triangle countries where most of the migrants currently crossing illegally into the U.S. originate.
“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,” Jacobson said, according to the newswire.
While Jacobson did say that the government “isn’t going to be handing out money or checks to people,” she did not provide any details about how the cash would be distributed, Reuters noted.
President Joe Biden has said in the past he wants to spend up to $4 billion in Central America to combat what he has called the “root causes” of the current migrant crisis including economic depression and gang violence.
Also, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) told the newswire service that money is already being sent to Central American countries “to help people meet their basic needs” following recent events including hurricanes. The agency also said it is considering expansion of payments.
An option for increasing payments would be to funnel money through non-governmental organizations that USAID would first “vet,” according to an unnamed source who spoke to Reuters.
But Republicans reacted with disbelief and anger over the proposal, citing a need by American citizens who are still struggling following COVID-19 pandemic-related business closures and economic slowdowns even as the Biden administration spends tens of millions per week to house and care for citizens of Central American countries.
“President Biden wants to try and buy our way out of his border crisis with taxpayer money. The Administration is spending $60 million a week, and now wants to launch a cash transfer program in Central America. This insults millions of Americans who are out of work in our country,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter.
President Biden wants to try and buy our way out of his border crisis with taxpayer money. The Administration is spending $60 million a week, and now wants to launch a cash transfer program in Central America. This insults millions of Americans who are out of work in our country. https://t.co/Jcav3wYyhf
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 10, 2021
GOP House Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana also reacted angrily.
“Let me get this straight: Actual American citizens are struggling. But Dems want to send cash payments to people in Central America. And if you’re an illegal immigrant in New York? NY Dems want to give you $15,600. This is madness,” he wrote online.
Let me get this straight:
Actual American citizens are struggling.
But Dems want to send cash payments to people in Central America.
And if you’re an illegal immigrant in New York? NY Dems want to give you $15,600.
This is madness.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) April 10, 2021
Donald Trump Jr. also weighed in, noting — as many other Republicans have — that it was Biden’s reversal of his father’s border enforcement policies that created the current migrant crisis.
“1. Biden reverses Trump’s border policies. 2. A predictable & preventable crisis at the border ensues. 3. And now Joe’s solution to fixing the border crisis he caused is using money from American taxpayers to give cash payments to foreigners. You can’t make this bulls**t up!!!” Trump Jr. wrote.
1. Biden reverses Trump's border policies.
2. A predictable & preventable crisis at the border ensues.
3. And now Joe's solution to fixing the border crisis he caused is using money from American taxpayers to give cash payments to foreigners.
You can't make this bullshit up!!! https://t.co/BYQPGilYJR
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 9, 2021
The back-and-forth comes as the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection agents dealt with a record number of migrants last month. According to reports, agents encountered 172,000 migrants, including more unaccompanied children in a single month than ever before. The influx has led to overcrowded detention facilities and shelters.
In response, the Biden administration has blamed former President Donald Trump’s policies as having disrupted previous pathways to asylum and for failing to prepare for the influx as illegal migrant crossings began to increase following the November election, Fox News reported.
Biden said during the campaign repeatedly that he would reverse Trump’s border policies, which he began to do to during his first days in office.
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