The United States should provide billions of dollars to help countries in Central America to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants, according to Otto Perez, the president of Guatemala. Perez also says that the problem is likely to get worse without help from Washington.
Record numbers of undocumented immigrant minors fleeing from violence, looking for work or trying to reach relatives in the United States have exited El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in the last year, only to be apprehended at the southern border and resulting in widespread alarm. The three countries in question touted an ambitious development plan to deal with the issue to Washington last month and want $10bn to be pumped into the region to lift living standards and create jobs.
Perez said in an interview that he hopes the plan would provide around $2bn per annum over the course of 2015 to 2019, a figure he says is roughly equivalent to just 10% of the cost of annual spending on immigration enforcement and border control by the US government. “Now we understand it’s not simply a question of the United States saying ‘Right, here’s $2bn a year for five years’ for example,” Perez admits. “The governments of the three countries have to play their part too.” Guatemala’s foreign minister, Carlos Morales, has been particularly bullish on the subject, arguing that the US should provide the funding given that gang violence in the region has been caused by demand for illegal drugs in the United States.