President Barack Obama will reportedly request $1 billion from Congress to help Central American countries make reforms necessary to address political, economic and security challenges in the wake of the major increase in Central American children entering the U.S. illegally last summer.
Vice President Joe Biden detailed Obama’s effort in an op-ed for The New York Times, saying the “security and prosperity of Central America are inextricably linked with our own.”
“On Monday (Feb. 1), President Obama will request from Congress $1 billion to help Central America’s leaders make the difficult reforms and investments required to address the region’s interlocking security, governance and economic challenges,” Biden said. Obama’s aid request, according to the vice president, is three times what the U.S. typically provides to the region.
The plan, which will be proposed in Obama’s budget for 2016 on Feb. 1, would “provide $400 million to promote trade, reduce poverty and improve customs and border integration, among other programs,” according to The Hill. In addition, the U.S. would provide $300 million to reduce crime and strengthen security, and $250 million would go towards helping leaders identify reforms to implement.
Biden acknowledged that despite aid from the U.S., countries in the region would still need to better manage their finances.
“Central American economies can grow only by attracting international investment and making a more compelling case to their citizens to invest at home,” Biden wrote. “That requires clear rules and regulations; protections for investors; courts that can be trusted to adjudicate disputes fairly; serious efforts to root out corruption; protections for intellectual property; and transparency to ensure that international assistance is spent accountably and effectively.”
Biden said in his op-ed he believes significant improvements can be made throughout Central America, and is confident that with the help of Congress, U.S. aid would help countries in the region become “overwhelmingly middle class, democratic and secure.”
“That is why we are asking Congress to work with us,” he said. “Together, we can help Central America become an embodiment of the Western Hemisphere’s remarkable rise — not an exception to it.”