The State Department has named a new special envoy to direct its efforts in seeking to stem migration from a trio of nations in Central America.
Ricardo Zúñiga, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, will serve as its special envoy for the Northern Triangle, the region comprised of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The area has long been responsible for a significant portion of migration pressure at the Southern border, and Zúñiga’s appointment comes as the Biden administration is facing pressure from both sides of the aisle to address a recent influx.
Zúñiga will work with Northern Triangle countries, Mexico and other nations “on a range of issues in order to seek to improve conditions in Central America,” an effort that ties in with Biden’s promise of a $4 billion investment in the area to address the “root causes” of migration, ranging from improving economies to battling corruption and violence.
“He also will hold our partners accountable for their commitments to address root causes of migration and the increase in arrivals of unaccompanied children at the U.S. southern border,” the State Department said in a release, noting that he will also be tasked with engaging with nonprofits and the private sector.
Though the Biden administration is already staffing up to roll out its root causes strategy, the $4 billion in funding has not yet been appropriated by Congress, a potentially difficult process as President BidenJoe BidenAstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine found 79 percent effective in US trial with no safety concerns The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran This week: Senate works to confirm Biden picks ahead of break MORE’s immigration bill faces opposition in both chambers.
Zúñiga’s first trip to the region is slated for this week, where he will join border czar Roberta Jacobson and National Security Council Western Hemisphere Senior Director Juan Gonzalez on a trip to Mexico and Guatemala.
A longtime State Department employee, Zúñiga has served in a number of posts in Latin America and also served as senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council under former President Obama.