The Increasing Role of U.S. Adversaries in the Region
Root Causes of Migration
Countries in the region, particularly Central America, are struggling with major security, economic and political issues that are driving illegal migration to the U.S. Creating economic opportunity in the region is key to addressing the root causes of migration, and this will be a focus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this Congress. Encouraging investment from the private sector and pursuing nearshoring – moving supply chains to the Western Hemisphere and away from China – are important ways to help create opportunities for people to thrive in their home countries.
USAID and NGOs play an important role in addressing the root causes of migration by combatting corruption, supporting economic growth, and providing more opportunities for people, especially youth, to get involved in their communities rather than pursuing gang activity or migration in the region.
Immigration Policy Under the Biden Administration
The Biden administration has failed to secure our southern border and protect the American people. After two years of presidency, there has been minimal progress on addressing the root causes of the immigration crisis.
The administration recently announced a new plan in early January 2023 to allow 30,000 individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to enter the U.S. per month and legally work for up to two years. Mexico agreed to accept the same number of migrants from these countries if they attempt to illegally enter the U.S.
Drug and Human Trafficking at the Southern Border
The U.S. is facing a drug epidemic, and Mexican cartels have their hands in all types of drugs trafficked into the U.S. – from the physical act of trafficking the drugs to the U.S., manufacturing synthetically produced opioids with the assistance of Chinese sourced precursor chemicals, trafficking cocaine originating from Colombia, to cultivating opium poppies for heroin production.
Fentanyl overdose has become the number one killer of adults aged 18-45, and in 2022 alone, the DEA seized over 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder and over 50 million fentanyl-laced, counterfeit prescription pills – enough to kill every American. Regarding fentanyl specifically, China supplies precursor chemicals to Mexico, and the cartels receive them at maritime and air ports of entry in Mexico to produce and manufacture fentanyl – a highly addictive synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Also, India is becoming a source of precursor chemicals and finished fentanyl powder. Mexican cartels have also exploited migrants in Mexico to smuggle them across the border.
The Increasing Role in South America of U.S. Adversaries
China’s increasing involvement around the region over the past two decades ranges from enhanced diplomatic and trade relations, investment in the mining, energy and space sectors, infrastructure projects, arms exports and military ties, the establishment of Confucius Institutes, and others.
Russia has strong relationships with fellow anti-U.S. authoritarian regimes in the region – Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba – that heavily center around military cooperation. Russia also maintains strong political and trade relations with these countries, as well as with several others. Russia’s actions are primarily aimed at intimidating the U.S. in our own hemisphere, and its reach is more limited than China’s.