Central American Nations Feel US Pressure on Border Crisis

Friday, 20 Jun 2014 10:38 AM

By Melanie Batley

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American lawmakers this week criticized leaders of Central American governments whose policies they blame for triggering the influx of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants across the U.S. border.

Democrats exchanged harsh words with the ambassadors of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala for failing to "tell the truth" to their people by allowing rumors of U.S. amnesty to circulate, The Washington Times reported. 

"I do not see the countries of Central America stepping up to take responsibility for the danger, dysfunction, death and despair in their own cities and towns," Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Thursday, according to the Times.

Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to participate in a meeting in Guatemala on Friday to discuss the immigration crisis. Biden is to address Central American leaders about the issue and to try to dispel rumors that legal status will be granted for those who arrive without documentation.

He is also expected to emphasize that those who cross the border are not eligible to obtain legal status under the Obama administration's non-deportation policies or the Senate immigration reform legislation pending in Congress.

"He has a way of being blunt, and I would be disappointed in this case if he were not," Delaware Democratic Sen. Thomas Carper, who served alongside Biden in the Senate, told the Times.

Critics of the Obama administration insist the government's lax border enforcement and non-deportation policy for minors are the cause of the escalating crisis, but others say the influx is more a reflection of the deteriorating economic and social conditions in Central America.

A source at the El Salvador Embassy in Washington told the Times that the country is already taking steps to try to halt the flow of immigrants, and children in particular, into the United States.

"In recent days, El Salvador has strengthened our consulates in the border, and our cooperation with American authorities is intense," the source said. "These examples show our commitment to find common solutions with the United States. Nevertheless, [what] is needed [is] a transnational approach that deals with socioeconomic and security themes such as drug trafficking, organized crime and economic growth."

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