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Proposed US budget cuts could pose regional security problems, Caribbean/American leaders warn

From Jamaica Observer

WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — Caribbean American leaders in Washington have warned that proposed cuts to the United States Department of State’s foreign aid budget could have serious implications for the region at a time when there is increasing concern about terrorism.

The warning came in a briefing on US-Caribbean policy, hosted by Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and members of the Caribbean Congressional Caucus.

The talks focused on security, a bill proposing to tax remittances and the Trump administration’s recent decision to give Haitians a limited, six-month extension in the Temporary Protected Status programme, potentially sending 58,000 undocumented Haitians back to their country in January.

“The economy cannot absorb 60,000 people in 60 months. It is unrealistic, it is inhumane and it should not happen,” said Curtis Ward, a former Jamaican ambassador to the United States.

Most of Ward’s remarks, however, were focused on proposed US aid cuts and possible implications for the United States’ third border, as the Caribbean Basin is sometimes known.

The Miami Herald newspaper reported that Ward expressed fear that a proposed 28 per cent reduction in the State Department’s budget would force it to slash programmes like the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), introduced by President Barack Obama in 2009 to improve citizen safety throughout the Caribbean with US aid.

“Despite being under-resourced, CBSI is fulfilling some of its original gains to assist countries in the region to build security and law enforcement capacities to deal with drug trafficking and related criminal activities,” he said.

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