Vice President Harris, tasked with reversing Biden’s ill-conceived border crisis – mass illegal migration prompted by ‘catch and release,’ no deportation, housing illegal minors, ending deterrence – has hit a new low. Ignoring public facts, she blames Trump for the crisis. This is pure Harris hooey. The facts are all with Trump.
Last week, Harris – AWOL on border policy correction – decided the best defense is offense, so claimed that Trump’s policies in Central America triggered the mass inflow after January 2021. Problem is – facts say the reverse. See, e.g., https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kamala-harris-southern-border-central-america-trip.
In contrast to Biden-Harris’ red carpet for illegal entrants, Trump’s policies on Central America were highly effective. They involved carrot and stick, just like forcing Mexico to link law enforcement and trade worked to fortify Mexico’s southern border, retain asylum seekers, and assist on our border.
Specifically, Trump conditioned generous US support to three Central American countries on higher levels of cooperation in addressing illegal migration. This is the definition of carrot-and-stick diplomacy. Did it work? In spades.
Unclassified reports on the Trump policy, and what happened afterward, are clear. The Trump team adopted a highly proactive effort to engage Central America, codified in their “US Strategy for Central America. See, https://www.state.gov/u-s-strategy-for-central-america/.
Contrary to Harris’ claims, the strategy was focused on reducing illegal immigration and drug trafficking. It recognized that “the region is relatively free from armed conflict, politically stable, and a strong economic partner, importing over $27 billion in US goods in 2017,” yet “suffers from high rates of violence and crime” based on “weak judicial systems” and poverty.
Accordingly, the Trump team pressed a bipartisan plan – real, not in name only – that delivered hundreds of millions in aid, trade, security, training, and institution-building. Like similar efforts in the early 2000s across Latin America – which produced measurable returns – the Trump team leaned forward. They also required accountability.
As a result, three things happened. US aid flowed, generating measurable returns in these countries. US aid was halted, or tapered and made conditional when results lagged – then resumed when cooperation on rule of law issues ensued. And – guess what? – illegal immigration came down.
Numbers tell the story. In a State Department report filed with Congress – which Harris received – major success metrics were reported. In 2018, Trump’s Central America Strategy boosted the region’s economy by $140 million in economic activity, generating 30,000 new jobs, reinforced rule of law with support to 1,000 civil society organizations, trained 1,700 human rights defenders, improved case management in 350 courts, trained 9,000 judicial personnel, “reached nearly 120,000 at-risk youth, primarily in high-crime urban areas, with social services,” supported law enforcement in seizing “over 106,000 kilograms of illegal narcotics,” and in urban areas where violence drives migration “reduced homicide rates” between 40 and 73 percent in two years. See, e.g., https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/FY-2020-CEN-Strategy-Progress.pdf.
Having established a baseline for support, including elevated trade, Trump’s team then insisted on accountability. When that lagged, they acted. “In March 2019, the President announced the suspension of assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to encourage these countries to do more to prevent illegal immigration to the United States.”
The effect was immediate. A year later, State and USAID reported: “Since then, enhanced migration cooperation with these governments has contributed to sharp declines in border arrivals,” adding “DHS encounters of Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran migrants along the U.S. southern border decreased from 623,666 in FY 2019 to 93,679 in the first eleven months in FY 2020 (October 2019 to August 2020),” and “the three governments have also signed a combined 15 agreements and arrangements with the United States to enhance border security, increase asylum cooperation, strengthen information sharing, and promote access to temporary employment opportunities in the United States.”
Endgame? “As a result of the significant reduction in illegal immigration flows, the White House supports moving forward with U.S. assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.” In other words, once accountability was reestablished, the Trump team reinitiated major programs to support both economic activities and rule of law in these source countries for illegal migration.
What happened then? Simple, Trump’s targeted, life-changing assistance and insistence on accountability generated – once again – major results. Specifically, “between October 2019 and May 2020, the White House approved approximately $714 million in FY 2017, FY 2018, FY 2019, and FY 2020 foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras,” and the impact was felt.
Numbers again tell the story. The number of US person-hours dedicated to economic training went from near 4,000 to more than 28,000. The dollar value of exports and domestic sales went from 92 million in the last year of Obama-Biden to 141 million in FY 2019, the same year the Trump strategy was credited with creating more than 31,000 jobs in the region. The number of people with improved economic benefits went from 22,000 to 70,000. Workplace development programs went from 2,400 to 19,000.
On the rule of law side, things were equally impressive. At-risk youth trained went from 790 to 41,630 between 2016 and mid-2019, 52 times as many trained under Trump as under Obama-Biden. Civil society organizations helped jumped from 713 to 1094.
Notably, the number of felony convictions in the three most troubled countries – all increased under Trump’s strategy. In El Salvador, convictions jumped from 6,994 to 20, 707. In Guatemala, convictions jumped from 18,536 to 56 481. In Honduras, they leaped from 270 to 2,683. So, by this measure, rule of law jumped three-fold in El Salvador and Guatemala and 10-fold in Honduras.
Do you see what this means? At the same time Trump pushed border security, driving down illegal aliens entering the US by coordinated action with Mexico and federal law enforcement, he also drove up the economies, up the youth training, and down the crime numbers in the three leading countries pushing illegal aliens north.
Now – truth: Harris just asserted the exact opposite. Rather than admit Biden-Harris policies invite illegal immigration, reduce deterrence, undermine the region’s long-term economy, security, stability, and self-reliance; rather than admit these policies endanger US public health and safety; rather than admit these ill-conceived policies produce a train of human rights abuses; rather than admit Trump’s carrot-and-stick diplomacy worked – she said the exact reverse.
On one hand, the Biden-Harris Administration seems content to misrepresent reality, downplaying foreign, domestic, and border crises – this one of their own making- for political gain. On the other, incontrovertible facts offer a strong testament: The Biden-Harris border policies are a disaster. Trump’s carrot-and-stick diplomacy worked and helped all countries involved. How about we go back to what works – and ditch the Harris hooey?
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