Tags: US | Guatemala | illegal immigrants

Guatemala's Perez: $2 Billion Needed to Stem Illegal Immigration Crisis

Image: Guatemala's Perez: $2 Billion Needed to Stem Illegal Immigration Crisis
President Barack Obama speaks as Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, second left, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, right, and Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, left, listen in the Cabinet Room of the White House on July 25.

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 11:58 PM

Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina said $2 billion in U.S. aid is needed for three Central American nations to help stem a surge in immigration northward by unaccompanied children.

Following a meeting in Washington yesterday with President Barack Obama and the leaders of Honduras and El Salvador, Perez Molina said the three Central American leaders are seeking a U.S. commitment along the lines of what was provided to Colombia when that country was struggling to contain an insurgency by drug-funded rebels.

“Right now the U.S. is investing in the security of its border with Mexico, the southern border of the U.S., almost $20 billion a year,” Perez Molina said in an interview with El Financiero-Bloomberg TV. “We believe that with 10 percent of what they’re investing there, we can build a long-term plan.”

A five- to 10-year development plan would generate “better opportunities for employment, better living conditions and more stability in the region,” he said.

The Washington meeting followed debate over an influx of child immigrants from the three so-called “northern triangle” nations of Central America. The White House and Congress have been debating Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the crisis, including about $300 million in foreign assistance.

Perez Molina urged the U.S. Congress to approve Obama’s request before lawmakers break for their August recess next week.

Obama told the leaders that they share with the U.S. responsibility for stopping the wave of children fleeing to the U.S. border via Mexico. He said the U.S. is committed to helping Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador boost security and economic development as part of a broader strategy to discourage families from sending children on a dangerous trip north toward the border.

More than 57,000 unaccompanied minors from those nations and Mexico have arrived at the U.S. southern border since the start of the fiscal year in October, including more than 14,000 from Guatemala. Together, the northern triangle nations have some of the highest homicide rates in the world, with street gangs extorting local businesses and building networks with drug cartels in Mexico and South America.

One option the Obama administration is considering would involve sending National Guard troops to the border and setting up a pilot program to evaluate would-be migrants for refugee status in their home countries.

“It’s important to get out of this crisis we have now with the unaccompanied minors, but beyond that we need to go to the roots, to see the base of the problems that are causing this immigration,” including the lack of opportunities and lack of investment in the nation, he said.

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Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina said $2 billion in U.S. aid is needed for three Central American nations to help stem a surge in immigration northward by unaccompanied children.
US, Guatemala, illegal immigrants
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2014-58-28
Monday, 28 Jul 2014 11:58 PM
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