USAID chief to address migration roots on Central America trip

USAID chief Samantha Power will visit Central America on her first international trip since taking office as President Joe Biden’s administration seeks to tackle root causes of migration, the agency said Friday.

Power, a writer and humanitarian advocate who held senior posts under former president Barack Obama, will visit Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala from June 13-17 and meet with civil society, government and business leaders.

She will also meet beneficiaries of US assistance as well as young people, members of marginalized groups and people affected by severe drought and hurricanes, the US Agency for International Development said in a statement.

The trip comes as Biden’s Republican rivals, many of them sworn critics of immigration, go on the offensive over the arrival at the US border of thousands of migrants including children since Biden entered the White House.

Vice President Kamala Harris also visited the region on her first international trip, stopping both in Mexico and Guatemala, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will visit Mexico as well next week.

The Biden administration has urged undocumented people not to come but has also promised a more humane response than former president Donald Trump, who sought to deter migrants by separating children from parents, forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico and freezing aid to Central American nations.

Biden has sought funding for a four-year, $4 billion plan to address the roots of migration in the so-called Northern Triangle countries including dire poverty, violence, corruption and climate change.

Power after taking office channeled some US assistance away from Salvadoran government institutions amid concerns over the removal of the attorney general and Supreme Court justices by allies of President Nayib Bukele.

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