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Exclusive: Guatemalan lawmaker Warns Biden Admin that ‘trade not aid’ will resolve border crisis

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By Jenny Goldsberry

Investigative columnist Sara Carter appeared on Fox News Sean Hannity Monday night with guest host Judge Jeanine Pirro to discuss President Biden’s massive failures at the border. Carter, who recently traveled to Guatemala, interviewed a number of senior diplomats, to include Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

However, Friday’s appearance highlighted her interview with Guatemalan Congressman Enrique Montano on how both nations are failing to resolve the growing economic crisis in Central America and why that has led to a severely broken border and exacerbated the western hemisphere’s immigration crisis.

“I just recently returned from a trip to Guatemala,” Carter told Pirro. “I’ve been there actually four times over the last two years, and I can tell you that they’re extraordinarily frustrated with the Biden administration.”

Over the years, the country has deteriorated, despite help from the U.S. Federal government according to President Giammattei, as well as other diplomats in the region.

“We saw enormous amounts of poverty, some areas in Guatemala that used to be bustling towns now like empty ghost towns,” said Carter. “And they’re saying, wait, it’s not about allocating money for humanitarian crisis that will end up in the hands and pockets of NGOs throughout Guatemala. What we need specifically is a free trade agreement, strong free trade agreement with the United States. Nobody’s facing those facts.”

Montano echoed Giammattei’s sentiments.

“Because it’s trade, not aid, we don’t want handouts,” Montano said. “We want the American market to be more open towards us. The quotas that we have in many of our products, which, by the way, are world class products, we need more quotas. We need the border to be open, maybe not for our nationals, but for our products. And then you’re going to build a strong Guatemalan economy. You know how to help countries economically.”

This isn’t a new concept, according to Montano.

The same concept already saw success in a neighbor country. “Look at Mexico. You had a free trade agreement with them and you helped Mexico again,” Montano said. “Immigration from Mexican nationals to the United States has dramatically decreased. Our countries have increased that.”

Meanwhile, other countries are stepping in to lend a hand.

“Judge Jeanine, one of the biggest concerns, they say, is that if we don’t build strong economic trade with Guatemala and our other Central American neighbors, the fear is that our adversaries, like China and Russia, will be encroaching even further into the region, presenting a direct threat in the Western Hemisphere and to the United States,” Carter added.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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