July 29, 2021
On February 2, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order that called for the development of a Root Causes Strategy.
Since March, Vice President Kamala Harris has been leading the Administration’s diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. She has worked with bilateral, multilateral, and private sector partners, as well as civil society leaders, to help people from the region find hope at home. This complements work done throughout the U.S. government over the last six months to learn lessons from prior efforts and to consult with a wide range of stakeholders to inform the development of this strategy.
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is releasing the Root Causes Strategy—a core component of our Administration’s efforts to establish a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system. This Strategy identifies, prioritizes, and coordinates actions to improve security, governance, human rights, and economic conditions in the region. It integrates various U.S. government tools, including diplomacy, foreign assistance, public diplomacy, and sanctions.
Implementation of the Strategy will rely on the expertise of a wide range of U.S. departments and agencies, with support from governments in and outside the region, civil society, the private sector, multilateral organizations, international financial institutions, and the U.S. Congress. These partnerships will bolster the impact of the Strategy through informing programmatic interventions, leveraging political will, and mobilizing necessary resources. The U.S. government will coordinate a place-based approach, targeting those areas where migrants are most likely to come from.
The Strategy is organized into five pillars:
- Pillar I: Addressing economic insecurity and inequality;
- Pillar II: Combating corruption, strengthening democratic governance, and advancing the rule of law;
- Pillar III: Promoting respect for human rights, labor rights, and free press;
- Pillar IV: Countering and preventing violence, extortion, and other crimes perpetrated by criminal gangs, trafficking networks, and other organized criminal organizations; and
- Pillar V: Combating sexual, gender-based, and domestic violence.
The Vice President and the Administration have already taken action – notable accomplishments include:
- Addressing immediate humanitarian needs including vaccines. On April 26, Vice President Harris announced $310 million in urgent relief to help address the acute factors of migration, including from hurricanes, the pandemic, and drought caused by climate change. To date, we have allocated over $250 million of the total funds, reaching over two million people. We also provided over 10 million COVID vaccine doses to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
- Countering corruption and democratic backsliding. Vice President Harris has been direct and unwavering in highlighting the problems of corruption, the need for reforms, and the vital importance of demonstrating commitment to the rule of law, judicial independence, human rights, and a strong civil society—including during her bilateral meeting in Guatemala. Working with the Department of Justice, the Vice President launched an Anticorruption Task Force that will include U.S. prosecutors and law enforcement experts to investigate and prosecute corruption cases with a nexus in the United States and the region.
- Addressing security concerns of mutual interest. Vice President Harris launched Anti-Migrant Smuggling Task Forces in both Mexico and Guatemala and secured commitments to increase border enforcement. She reached an agreement with the Mexican government to restart the high-level dialogue focused on the trafficking of weapons and drugs.
- Internationalizing our efforts. The Vice President has said, “The United States cannot do this work alone.” She has reached out to international partners to highlight the need for increased support for Central America and secured commitments from a number of countries. She successfully encouraged the United Nations to develop a regional Humanitarian Response Plan to mobilize international donor support for the region.
- Working with the private sector. On May 27, Vice President Harris launched a Call to Action for the private sector to make new commitments in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to expand economic opportunities. The initial group of 12 companies and organizations committed to helping over 13 million people, offered to provide $750 million in resources, and established a non-profit organization to support economic development efforts in the region – The Partnership for Central America. These initial commitments will provide financial services to small business owners, internet access and digital banking to rural communities, housing for low-income families, and reduced barriers to higher education. Since the launch, over 150 companies and organizations have expressed interest in joining the Call to Action.