Joe Biden’s first transatlantic trip as president offers an opportunity to learn from the European experience in linking up migration and development aid, and to reflect on how the emerging U.S. strategy to address the root causes of migration and displacement from Central America can improve upon Europe’s efforts in Africa.

The Biden administration has pledged $4 billion over four years to stem irregular migration flows from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, a commitment underscored by the visit of Vice President Kamala Harris to Guatemala and Mexico last week. This funding has been primarily motivated by a sharp increase in migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border, rising from 78,000 in January to 180,000 in May. By doing so, the administration has reactivated the recipe of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America aiming to curb migration to the United States by improving conditions in the region. Between fiscal years 2016 and 2021, Congress allocated $3.6 billion to the strategy; while results have been mixed, U.S. officials insist this time will be different.

To achieve that outcome, they would do well to examine a similar initiative, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), launched by the European Commission in 2015. Spontaneous migrant arrivals to Europe had reached an unprecedented level, and EU officials claimed the EUTF (which has expended nearly 5 billion euros) would help curb irregular migration and displacement from Africa. The European experience offers five main lessons directly applicable to the situation in Central America.

Read the full article about development assistance and migration by Camille Le Coz and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto at Migration Policy Institute.