After being appointed by President Joe Biden to handle the overwhelming crisis at the southern border nearly a month ago, Vice President Kamala Harris finally begins to address the situation, meeting on May 7th with Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to explore his solutions to the “root causes” of migration from Central America, which includes planting trees in exchange for citizenship.
Obrador’s program will simultaneously remedy the rampant poverty in the nation and, more generally, climate change. The plan will be centered on a massive tree-planting initiative Obrador hopes to convince the United States to participate in and help fund.
Mexico’s program will involve planting 1 billion fruit and timber trees, offering workers who participate six-month work visas that lead to citizenship, which Obrador expects to create “1.2 million jobs.” Obrador also hopes the United States will help fund the initiative, a price tag that is estimated to approach three billion dollars for Mexico.
“You, President Biden, can finance the Planting Life program in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador,” Obrador told President Joe Biden. “The proposal is that we extend this program to southeastern Mexico and Central America, to plant 3 billion more trees and create 1.2 million jobs.”
The initiative has already planted over 700,000 trees, according to Obrador, however Mexican farmers are reportedly cutting down large swaths of rainforest simply to cash in on the government grants when they replant the trees in the open space.
“In many cases, people said, ‘Well, I have my hectare of jungle but the program is coming so I’ll cut down the jungle, use the trees for my house or to sell the wood or whatever, and when the program comes I’ll sow seeds again,’” one Mexican ecology professor told Bloomberg News.
Harris’s office said the two would discuss the “common goals of prosperity, good governance and addressing the root causes of migration.”
The southern border has experienced a record-breaking surge of migrants during the Biden administration, slamming federal detention facilities as they struggle to keep up with flood. After a flurry of executive orders undoing much of the Trump administration’s highly successful border policy, including the “Remain-in-Mexico” program that forced potential immigrants seeking asylum to stay in Mexico during the legal process, Biden has inadvertently triggered a crisis.
Harris has yet to visit southern border and has no plans to, as she explained her role in handling the crisis at the border is a more diplomatic one.
“I have been asked to lead the issue of dealing with root causes in the Northern Triangle, similar to what the then-Vice President did many years ago,” Harris said recently. “But I will tell you these are issues that aren’t going to be addressed overnight.”