1 of 3 | Vice President Kamala Harris meets with CEOs to discuss private sector investment in Central America in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday announced $1.2 billion in investments from private companies to address the root causes of immigration from Central America.
She said the investments came from seven companies, including PepsiCo, Mastercard and Cargill, and will go toward boosting the economies and social infrastructure in countries where immigration is most pronounced. Harris issued a call to action in May to assist El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
"Six months ago, we had a commitment of $750 million," she said Monday during a meeting with executives. "Today, we have a commitment of over $1.2 billion.
"This is not about us coming in and telling anyone what they should do. It is about being partners and assisting and helping to facilitate the natural desire of the people in these nations. This is important work. This is good work. I think it reflects the best of who we are as the United States recognizing our responsibility as neighbors to these countries in the Western Hemisphere."
PepsiCo said it plans to designate $190 million for investments in Central America, including improving manufacturing plants. Cargill, meanwhile, plans to invest $150 million in farming operations in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Parkdale Mills said it will build a $150 million yarn spinning site in Honduras.
And Mastercard said it will invest $100 million to boost e-commerce in Central America.
Harris' announcement came a month after the United States recorded Southwest border land encounters with 164,303 migrants in October, more than double the 71,939 encounters from a year prior. Fiscal year 2021, which ended Sept. 30, notched 1.73 million encounters, quadruple the 458,088 from fiscal year 2020, according to Customs and Border Patrol.
Harris, who's been put in charge of the White House's strategy on migration, has said the Biden administration seeks to focus on addressing the root causes of migration to stem the flow of people crossing the southern border.
"The people of El Salvador and Guatemala and Honduras; we have talked many times during our meetings about who they are," Harris said. "They are not unlike people all over the world. When they leave their home country, the place of their birth. A place where their grandmother might still live. They usually leave for one of two reasons not because they want to. But either they are fleeing some harm or because they simply cannot satisfy the basic need for themselves or their families if they stay."