Kevin McAleenan, the Trump administration’s border chief, said Sunday that the United States must invest in Central America if the country wishes to successfully resolve the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. This goes against a recent tweet by President Donald Trump declaring he would cut off all aid to the region’s three countries.
In an interview with This Week, McAleenan, who is the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), told the program’s co-anchor, Martha Raddatz, that the crisis at the southern border is a multifaceted issue that requires an equally complex solution, ABC News is reporting.
“We also need to invest in Central America,” he said Sunday. “The State Department’s announcement of an unprecedented increase in aid, I think is a tremendous step forward. Our green shoots of progress, both on security and the economic front in Central America, we need to foster that and help improve the opportunities to stay at home.”
McAleenan’s comments come just two days after Trump took to Twitter to announce that the U.S. would be cutting off all aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, claiming that a new caravan of immigrants was already beginning to form in Honduras.
“Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries – taking advantage of U.S. for years!” Trump tweeted.
CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan on new border wall built since President Trump took office: "In the president's first budget we got about $300 million to start building new wall for the first time in years. We built 35 out of those 40 miles already" https://t.co/IQqIH8KNGD pic.twitter.com/YnLlW4vHEw— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 30, 2018
McAleenan further told Raddatz that the governments of the three Central American countries must work together with the U.S. as “an accountable partner.” He went on to say that cutting off aid could potentially aggravate the immigration crisis by driving more people into poverty and hunger. He gives the Western Highlands of Guatemala as an example of a poverty-stricken area that has received considerable aid from the United States.
Mexico has also recently stepped up and vowed to invest and help develop the region alongside the U.S. and the local authorities, McAleenan said, adding that with the extra help, the U.S. has an excellent shot at tacking the problem.
“I think with the Mexican government coming in now also expressing investment and development in Central America as a priority, we’ve got a real opportunity to make a difference,” he is quoted as saying in the ABC News report.
As the ABC News report highlighted, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has come under fire in the past month since two children died in its custody earlier this month, which McAleenan said are the first such deaths in more than a decade.