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Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde May 24, 2021

Democratic bill moves forward Biden’s pledge to invest $4 billion in Central America

Democrats in Congress introduced an immigration bill that would help President Joe Biden deliver on his promise to invest $4 billion in Central America to mitigate the factors pushing people to migrate to the United States.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 seeks a total of $4 billion for fiscal years 2022 to 2025 to address the corruption, violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that have long prompted people to leave their homes and seek asylum in the U.S.

The Biden-backed proposal outlines a 4-year initiative — the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America — and requires the collaboration of U.S. agencies, foreign governments and civil organizations that promote human rights.

The bill sets conditions for a portion of the funds: up to 50% of the money appropriated in each fiscal year could be used on day one toward the initiative's goals. But the remaining 50% would be available only after the U.S. determines that the respective foreign governments have taken steps to address corruption, implemented policies and programs to reduce poverty and counter violence, among other measures that improve safety and quality of life.

The U.S. Citizenship Act also directs the State and Treasury departments to secure financial and technical assistance from international donors to support the U.S. strategy. The proposal orders administration officials to create and push public information campaigns in Central America to discourage illegal immigration and to provide accurate information about U.S. immigration laws and policies.

The plan also proposes a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally. Although the bill has been referred to several House committees, its passage appears unlikely without sufficient support from Republican lawmakers in both chambers of Congress.

Separately, the Biden administration earlier this year said it would provide $310 million in emergency aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help farmers and mitigate the impact of drought, food shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden promised $4 billion in assistance to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Democrats have introduced a bill toward that goal, but the promise remains unfulfilled. We rate it In the Works.

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