Kamala Touts Creation of Hundreds of Thousands of Jobs—In Central America

US unemployment rate increased to two-year high in February

Kamala Harris (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
March 28, 2024

The White House is touting work from Vice President Kamala Harris to combat "economic insecurity" by creating hundreds of thousands of "high quality jobs"—in northern Central America.

In a fact sheet released Monday, the White House provided an "update" on Harris's efforts to address the "root causes" of illegal immigration. One section, titled "Creating Opportunities," notes that "U.S. government support for as many as 23,000 private sector firms in northern Central America has helped create and sustain up to an estimated 250,000 jobs." The fact sheet goes on to tout U.S. taxpayer-funded vocational training and jobs summits for residents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

"Vice President Harris continues to lead the implementation of the Root Causes Strategy, which tackles the drivers of irregular migration," the sheet says. "These efforts provide hope and opportunity to the people of Central America, affirming that a secure and prosperous future lies in their home communities."

Harris's focus on Central American jobs comes amid rising unemployment in the United States. The unemployment rate spiked to a two-year high in February, and in Washington, unemployment is at its highest level since the COVID-19 pandemic. President Joe Biden responded to those rates by calling the American economy "the envy of the world."

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

President Joe Biden tapped Harris to serve as the administration's border czar in 2021. "When she speaks, she speaks for me," he said of Harris at the time.

Roughly two months after the announcement, in June 2021, Harris traveled to Guatemala and Mexico in an attempt to "advance a comprehensive strategy to tackle the causes of migration." Harris had not visited the southern border as vice president at the time of the trip, though she claimed she had during an interview with NBC conducted in Guatemala.

"At some point, you know, we are going to the border," she said. "We've been to the border. So this whole, this whole, this whole thing about the border. We've been to the border."

"You haven't been to the border," NBC's Lester Holt responded. "I, and I haven't been to Europe," Harris said before laughing. "And I mean, I don't—I don't understand the point you're making." Harris visited the border for the first time as vice president weeks later.

Since then, the Biden administration has spent more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds on its "Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America."

In addition to its vocational trainings and job summits, the administration has funneled tens of millions of dollars to Central American "labor rights actors," announced two $6 million "soil mapping projects" in Guatemala and Honduras, and "supported over 140 journalists and more than 25 news outlets from Central America to improve investigative reporting on issues of public interest," according to the White House fact sheet.

Thus far, the strategy has not stopped migrants from flocking to the southern border. Migrant encounters at the southern border exceeded 300,000 in December, an all-time high.