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Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala make up a group of countries known as the “Northern Triangle” in Central America. They are all corrupt. They are all violence-infested. They all have hundreds of thousands of citizens who have left, are leaving, or are planning to leave for the United States.
Illegal immigrants from those three countries make up the lion’s share of the human wave coming to America. Vastly limiting those numbers is the key to getting a handle on the border crisis.
Joe Biden named Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the administration’s diplomatic efforts to deal with the border crisis. But outreach to Mexico has failed and there has been no high-level contact between the U.S. and the governments of Honduras and El Salvador.
Mexico is not allowing family units that left Mexico back in, forcing the U.S. to take them. As far as can be determined, Harris hasn’t made any effort to change that. The only nation that appears to want to cooperate is Guatemala. Harris will visit that nation next month on her first foreign trip in office.
There are problems with the other two countries that are admittedly not of Harris’s making. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was indicted in a U.S. court for drug trafficking and his brother, a former congressman, was sentenced to life in prison. Hernandez may be given a life sentence as well. It wouldn’t look good for Harris to be seen hobnobbing with drug traffickers.
The story in El Salvador isn’t drugs, but dictatorship. President Nayib Bukele doesn’t appear to like democracy very much. He just canned 5 supreme court justices and has been cozying up to China. He has attacked the press, the independent judiciary, and elected representatives are fearful.
Not a pretty picture and Harris is steering clear of El Salvador.
So it’s Guatemala by default. And the vice president’s prospects to get anything done there are slim and none. She thinks that concentrating on dealing with corruption will stem the tide of illegals.
“No matter how much effort we put in — on curbing violence, on providing disaster relief, on tackling food insecurity, on any of it — we will not make significant progress if corruption in the region persists,” Harris said earlier this month.
Given the widespread corruption in the region, the Biden administration is trying to create a road map that doesn’t rely solely on working with the countries’ governments, but also involves civil society leaders. In his big immigration reform bill, Biden earmarked $4 billion in aid as part of his strategy to address root causes of migration from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Officials and lawmakers say that money would not only go to the governments and would have strict conditions to ensure it isn’t misused.
Administration officials, lawmakers, and experts point to this effort to build partnerships beyond the governments as a major lesson from the Obama years when Biden was tapped to lead the same diplomatic efforts that Harris now is.
“The central issue in all three countries is the same: None of them have strong and independent judiciaries. None of them have strong and independent attorney generals. And all have very, very weak oversight mechanisms,” Olsen said.
We should be dubious of copying any efforts from the Obama administration to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants to America. Whatever he was doing didn’t work very well, although it no doubt made liberals feel very good about themselves.
The bottom line is that Kamala Harris has been set up to fail by the Biden team. She’s been given an impossible, thankless task. Whether this is to try to stick her in a corner somewhere and hope she doesn’t screw up too much, or they are trying to undermine her position to keep her from rising is hard to say.
This would explain why Harris won’t touch the border crisis in any real-world way. She won’t visit border communities or talk to border patrol personnel. The border will be Biden’s sticky wicket and anyone who is closely associated with the border will see the issue sticking to them into the next election.