In a rare bipartisan compromise on illegal immigration, the next federal budget will provide nearly $1 billion in funding for Mexico and Central America to help stop the flow of undocumented migrants to the United States, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar announced Wednesday.
Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, said he worked closely with Republican U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth in securing the $897 million for the region — an increase of almost $200 million for Central America alone.
Cuellar said the money, much of it to promote economic stability and development, will give immigrants more reason to stay home, while providing badly needed breathing room for overtaxed law enforcement officers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Laredo native said policymakers too often focus their attention on those crossing over the border into the United States while ignoring the problems festering on the other side of it, making it harder to stop the flow.
“We continue to play defense on our goal line when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration,” Cuellar said. “I’ve repeatedly said that to stop illegal immigration here at home, we must provide strategic investment abroad.”
The funding is part of the deal to fund the U.S. government in the 2016 fiscal year. Finalized Tuesday night, it still has to be passed in both houses and approved by the president before becoming law.
The funding package includes $750 million to support the "Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle," a program aimed at implementing economic and legal reforms in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, plus $100 million to help Mexico combat drug trafficking, Cuellar’s office said.