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Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border

Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThis week: Democrats face fractures in spending fight Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (D-Del.) dinged the Biden administration Thursday for so far failing to nominate ambassadors to the three Central American nations responsible for the bulk of migration to the southern border as the White House grapples with an influx of migrants.

President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE has yet to nominate ambassadors to El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras, even as the White House has designated significant personnel to Northern Triangle issues, including Vice President Harris.

“They've had a chance to get their feet wet now. We need him to nominate some career ambassadors, and we need to hold speedy hearings, vet them and vote them up or down,” Carper said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the border.

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His comments come as Biden has predicated much of his border strategy on dealing with the “root causes” of migration and pledging to send some $4 billion in aid to the three countries.

The money would be designated across a variety of priorities, from boosting local economies to dealing with cartel violence to pro-democracy measures.

The State Department has appointed Ricardo Zúñiga to serve as a special envoy for the region, in part to carry out the root causes strategy. But the administration has yet to make any ambassador nominations in Latin America, and the U.S. has been without an ambassador in Honduras since the start of the Trump administration. 

“I think that one of the best things we can do is put in place career ambassadors with Senate confirmation, Senate support as much as anything. We need to make sure that they're surrounded by terrific staff in the embassies in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. They need to be the counterbalance to all the thugs and the crooks and the criminals down there that are using drug money that we provide to continue to screw up those countries," Carper said.

He then echoed a call also made by Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Senators introducing B bill to help narrow digital divide How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress MORE (R-Ohio) to allow people to apply for asylum prior to arriving in the U.S. — something that has been endorsed by the administration but that would require an act of Congress.  

“If we can, in fact, adjudicate claims in the countries of origin or in truly safe places then we will spare children the perilous journey north,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasBiden expanding program for allowing young Central Americans into US US expanding work permits, deportation relief for crime victims Democrats press ICE, DHS to not re-detain migrants released during pandemic MORE said at the hearing.