Vice President Kamala Harris announced Monday evening that the US will send an additional $310 million to Central America “for humanitarian relief and to address food insecurity.”
$255 million will go to humanitarian relief and $55 million will go toward addressing food insecurity in the region.
“In light of the dire situation and acute suffering faced by millions of people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Vice President Harris announced an additional $310 million in U.S. government support,” a fact sheet released by the White House said.
Harris was tapped by President Joe Biden last month to lead Central American efforts against the backdrop of a growing number of migrants, many of whom are from the region, at the US southern border that have stretched the government’s resources.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on Latin America, as Covid-19 cases and deaths have soared and economies once projected to grow have been decimated. The region was also hit with two devastating hurricanes. The decline in economic growth in 2020, according to the Congressional Research Service, is expected to worsen income inequality and poverty in the region.
Monday’s announcement comes hours after Harris met virtually with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
According to a statement from Harris spokesperson Symone Sanders, the two leaders “committed to strengthen bilateral efforts to manage migration in an orderly and humane manner in accordance with national and international laws, agreed on the need to establish orderly and legal channels for migrants and agreed on the importance of creating economic opportunities in the region that will benefit both countries.”
Already, Republicans have used Harris’ assignment to paint her as the face of the problem, questioning why she hasn’t visited the border. Some of the backlash prompted the White House to make clear multiple times that her role is limited to diplomatic efforts in curbing the migrant flow – and not the entirety of the problem.
Harris does plan to travel to Central America in June, officials said. “I can’t get there soon enough,” she recently told CNN’s Dana Bash in an exclusive interview.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez, Kevin Liptak and Jasmine Wright contributed to this report.