US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday used a visit to Costa Rica to urge Central Americans with dreams of making a better life elsewhere not to head to his country without the proper documents.
Blinken was wrapping up a two-day trip to Latin America with the aim of putting into practice President Joe Biden’s desire to tackle issues driving migrant arrivals at the southern border of the United States.
“The truth is, too many young people in the region… are so desperate for a better life that they risk everything, everything… to make a very dangerous journey north,” he said during a visit to a civic center in San Jose.
“People die along the way. They experience violence, and those who do make it to our border are turned around, because the border is not open. The United States has made clear, and I’ll say it again, that people should not make the dangerous journey to our border,” said Blinken.
The diplomat conceded “it is not enough to say: ‘Don’t come’,” adding: “We have to work together to make it safer for people across Central America to stay in their homes and communities without fear.”
When Biden arrived at the White House in January, he was confronted with a large influx of Central American migrants at the US border with Mexico.
Biden promised a more “humane” migration policy to turn the page on the draconian restrictions of Donald Trump’s presidency, but Republicans accused him of having created a surge and then of denying the existence of a “crisis.”
Biden has entrusted Vice President Kamala Harris with the high-stakes dossier.
Harris, who will make her first trip to Mexico and Guatemala next week, has promised comprehensive action against the root causes of the migrant influx.
Washington has announced an aid package of $4 billion for the countries of the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador).
On Tuesday, Blinken met foreign ministers from several Central American countries, urging them to defend democracy and fight corruption to address the root causes of undocumented migration to the United States.
He also met Mexico’s foreign secretary.