The White House announced Monday that private companies have committed to invest $4.2 billion in Central America as part of Vice President Harris’ effort to reduce migration.
That figure marks an increase from a $3.2 billion commitment announced in June. Pledges have come from 47 companies and organizations, including the retail giant Target and the Columbia Sportswear Company.
The financial institution Microwd, which offers microloans to female entrepreneurs, has also pledged to invest.
The new commitment is targeted toward El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the so-called “Northern Triangle” nations. President Biden had tapped Harris in March 2021 to address the factors, including economic conditions, that have been leading people to migrate from these three countries and head north through Mexico and eventually up to the U.S. southern border.
Harris drew criticism from humanitarians in 2021 when she told migrants not to come to the United States. Conversely, she has also taken hits from conservatives who argue her work has not yielded progress because the southern border is overwhelmed.
But senior White House officials have argued that there is hard evidence to show Harris’ work, targeting the long-term causes of migration, is producing results. They note that despite record-setting apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022, the number of migrants coming from the Northern Triangle has decreased 71% since August 2021. Further, there has been a month-by-month decline in encounters with migrants from those three countries in the past eight months, according to Administration officials.
Harris was set to meet with U.S. officials and corporate leaders on Monday about plans to launch a new phase of the program Central America Forward. It will focus on broader economic developments and labor rights along with efforts to tackle corruption.