US urging Mexico help slow the flow of Central American immigrants

The United States is plotting an ambitious attempt to shore up Central America, with the administration of President Donald Trump pressing Mexico to do more to stem the flow of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in the region, U.S. and Mexican officials say.

The U.S. vision is being shaped by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly, who is due to give a speech about his goals for Central America in Washington on Thursday.

Kelly, who knows Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador well from his time as chief of the U.S. Southern Command, helped the administration of former President Barack Obama design his Alliance for Prosperity. That $750-million initiative sought to curtail Central American migration through development projects as well as law-and-order funding to crack down on the region's dominant gangs.

Kelly aims to re-tool the Obama-era alliance without a large increase in American funding by pressing Mexico to shoulder more responsibility for governance and security in Central America, and by drumming up fresh private investment for the region, U.S. and Mexican diplomats say.

"What we're going to see is ... greater engagement directly between the Central Americans and Mexican government ... (and) a more intense effort to integrate the economic side of this effort with the security side," William Brownfield, the U.S. assistant secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, told Reuters.

"We're going to see a strategy that has already been developed, but it is going to be pushed harder and more aggressively in the coming year, and the year after."

The reshaped alliance stands in contrast to some of the isolationist views jostling for power in the White House. Still it's consistent with Trump's foreign policy efforts to pressure China to do more to tackle the North Korea nuclear threat and to get European allies to pick up more of the tab for NATO.

The plan also puts Mexico in a delicate spot. President Enrique Pena Nieto has repeatedly expressed his desire to preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has become a pillar of Mexico's economy.

But he must avoid the appearance of capitulating to Trump, who has enraged the Mexican public with his threats to withdraw from NAFTA and force Mexico to pay for his proposed border wall.
Mexico should have a keen interest in this plan beyond just the NAFTA renegotiations.  Because of the US border crackdown many of the Central American refugees are now settling in Mexico become a drain on that country's resources.  The best plan for both the US and Mexico is to do something about the fail states in Central America that have more and more lost control of gangs and mobsters who are terrorizing the countries.


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