Updated 04:17 PM EDT, Mon, Jul 15, 2019

U.S. Congress Awards Almost $1B in Funding to Mexico & Central America to Promote Justice & Cross Cultural Understanding

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The United States Congress has approved a huge yearly spending bill that would provide almost $1 billion in funding to Mexico and Central America.

The funding initiatives, a part of the massive spending bill known as the Omnibus, is intended for efforts to promote cross cultural understanding and justice in society, among other issues, Washington Free Beacon reported.

Texas Representatives Henry Cuellar and Kay Granger backed the funding initiatives for Mexico and Central America, the news outlet wrote. According to Cuellar's office, about $265 million will go to "a microenterprise and microfinance program to promote economic development in Mexico and Central America." Around $39 million will be awarded to Mexico under the Economic Support Fund to promote a civil and fair society.

Cuellar's office also announced that the funding will be used to establish "a working group between the United States and Mexico to help facilitate and ease commerce across the border," Washington Free Beacon added. Additional funds will expand a U.S.-Mexico academic exchange program and assist in advancing "cultural exchange" projects with Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

Aside from these, the bill will fund a study on "what standards or protocols are needed for passenger and freight high-speed rail between the United States and Mexico to increase tourism and commerce," Washington Free Beacon noted.

Just recently, it was also reported that the yearly spending bill could strip traditional protections for low-wage workers, including those possessing temporary visas.

According to a separate report from Washington Free Beacon, the House version of the annual spending bill will boost "the number of foreign workers granted entrance to the United States to fill low-wage jobs, such as those in the construction and food service industries." The provision, which was led by Senators Thom Tillis and Barbara Mikulski, will make the number of H-2B visas for unskilled immigrant workers increase as much as 250,000.

A labor advocacy group called on lawmakers to remove the H-2B language, arguing that the new provision will "result in pink slips for U.S. workers and exploitation for foreign workers," the news outlet added.

"The greatest challenge facing the U.S. economy is wage stagnation. Millions of working families are struggling to make ends meet," the International Labor Recruitment Working Group said on Wednesday, as quoted by Washington Free Beacon. "Congress should not enact measures that would further erode wages and standards for difficult and often dangerous work in industries such as landscaping, forestry, seafood processing, hospitality, carnivals, and construction."

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