The heads of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were all missing in action at the Summit of the Americas so far this week, just as the Biden administration was pushing its call for international cooperation on the migrant crisis — and as the numbers keep piling up at the U.S. southern border.
Mexican President Andrew Manuel Lopez Obrador was not in attendance at the summit in Los Angeles – because not all countries were invited — and the presidents of the three Northern Triangle countries also decided to snub the event. All sent their foreign ministers, however, and Lopez Obrador has said he will visit Washington D.C. in July to discuss immigration and push for U.S. investments in Central America to help address root causes of migration.
HARRIS, AT SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS, DOUBLES DOWN ON ‘ROOT CAUSES’ EXPLANATION FOR MIGRANT CRISIS
Their lack of attendance was even more striking given the administration’s emphasis on migration at the summit — which they say requires intense international cooperation to solve the migrant crisis by tackling “root causes” like poverty, violence and climate change.
Mateo Haydar, a research assistant on Latin America at The Heritage Foundation told Fox News Digital that, “The Biden administration’s total lack of leadership has isolated the few governments that were working us to curb illegal immigration just a few years ago. Those countries perceive weakness in the Biden administration, so there is no incentive to cooperate on U.S. interests.”
Haydar continued, “It’s also delusional. The Biden administration claims to be signing a “historic migration declaration.” What it expects to negotiate or agree on without the presidents of Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries is totally unclear.”
Biden announced a new economic partnership plan, and said that there would be a declaration this week that would include “a ground-breaking, integrated new approach to managing migration and sharing responsibility across the hemisphere.”
“Safe and orderly migration is good for all of our economies, including the United States. It can be a catalyst for sustainable growth,” he said. “But unlawful migration is not acceptable. And we will enforce our borders, including through innovative, coordinated action with our regional partners.”
But the no-shows from the leaders suggest they are perhaps less inspired by the Biden plan than the U.S. Tensions have been on display before. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammatei told Fox News in December that he hadn’t heard from Vice President Kamala Harris — who was tasked last year with leading the diplomatic outreach to combat “root causes” since June. They later spoke in January.
Harris used the Summit to announce that her “Call to Action” has now corralled more than $3.2 billion in investments from the private sector into Central America — including those countries whose leaders didn’t show up.
Those investments include a $700 million investment by Millicom to expand mobile and broadband networks in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Visa has pledged to invest more than $270 million to expand financial inclusion and digital infrastructure.
Previous investments have included Microsoft and Nespresso — which committed to investing $150 million in the region, including coffee shipments from Honduras and El Salvador.
In her speech on Wednesday, Harris gave a hypothetical of a single mother in Honduras with no education who then benefits from a job from a beverage company investing in the region — combined with an aid program giving her children lunch and a financial company opening a bank account for her.
BIDEN HEADS TO SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS AMID EVENT TURMOIL, MEXICAN PRESIDENT BOYCOTT
In turn, a telecommunications company invests in Internet in the hypothetical woman’s town and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gives her a grant to establish an eco-tourism business, which in turn grows and allows her to hire employees.
“This story illustrates what I believe is possible when governments and business truly integrate our approach. This scenario is, then, our vision for millions of people as part of our strategy to address the root causes of migration from Central America,” she said.
However, border crossings have continued to soar despite Harris’ efforts. There were more than 234,000 migrant crossings in April, and officials have warned the situation could worsen over the summer. The administration, meanwhile, is considering a plan to relocate migrants deeper into the U.S. as a way to relieve overcrowding at the border.
A DHS spokesperson told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that no decision had yet been made.
Fox News’ Ben Evansky and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.