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White House announces border agreements with Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala

The White House on Monday said it had reached agreements with Mexico and other Central American countries to step up military presence at their borders in an effort to stem migration to the U.S.

The deals with Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala come as the U.S. grapples with historic levels of migration to its southern border.

“The objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey, and make crossing the borders more more difficult,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “We worked with them to increase law enforcement at the border to deter the travel, which is a treacherous journey … where many lose their lives.”

It’s unclear exactly when the U.S. reached the agreements with the three countries, with Psaki only saying they were signed in recent weeks. But her announcement comes on the heels of multiple trips by various administration officials to the region.

According to Psaki, Mexico will maintain a presence of 10,000 troops along its southern border. Guatemala will send 1,500 military and police personnel to its border with Honduras, while setting up 12 checkpoints along migration routes.

Honduras “surged 7,000 police and military to disperse a large contingent of migrants,” Psaki said.

White House Domestic Policy Council aide Tyler Moran, who spoke Monday on MSNBC, characterized the agreements as a way to blunt the influence of cartels, as the Biden administration has increasingly been attacked by Republicans for its response to traffickers.

“We’ve secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border. Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala have all agreed to do this. That not only is going to prevent the traffickers, and the smugglers, and cartels that take advantage of the kids on their way here, but also to protect those children,” Moran said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday also released details on some of its recent investments in the region, part of President Biden’s efforts to deal with the “root causes” of Central American migration.

In both Guatemala and Honduras, the U.S. is scaling up agricultural assistance while “providing skills training to returnees, making them more employable and economically resilient and less likely to re-migrate,” USAID said in a statement.

And in El Salvador, the agency said it is seeking to partner with businesses to create 10,000 jobs for “likely migrants, including vulnerable and displaced youth.”

The efforts come as Biden is seeking to secure $861 million in the fiscal 2022 budget toward his ultimate goal of investing $4 billion in Central America.

Updated at 2 p.m.

Tags border security Guatemala Honduras Jen Psaki Joe Biden Mexico migrant surge

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