The real crisis in Central America (Sen. Tom Carper)
As ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Carper recently led a congressional delegation to the “Northern Triangle” area of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador). It was a fact-finding mission to drill down on the root causes of migration from Central America and assess the effectiveness of a new approach in recent years to help improve conditions on the ground.
Our trip came just hours after President Trump declared a national emergency at our southern border in order to build his long-promised wall, even though illegal immigration across our southern border dropped by 80 percent between 2000 and 2018. While it’s true that border crossings have surged in recent months, they still remain well below historical highs. This comparison is misleading, as previously many of the illegal entrants could be quickly returned to Mexico, but now more of them are coming from a non-contiguous countries and the number of families and children is way up.
Since 2003, the U.S. has spent roughly $263 billion on border security enhancements. Doubled Border Patrol agents - deployed hundreds of miles of barriers and roads in the places where they are most effective - funded highly sophisticated surveillance equipment. Border security is much improved, but it hasn’t addressed “the dangerous and harsh conditions that force so many to flee their homeland.” And by the way, Americans have contributed to the pressure by buying the drugs that flow north across the border.
Following the last major migration surge in 2014, the Obama Administration, led by then-Vice President Joe Biden, worked with the Northern Triangle governments to develop an Alliance for Prosperity to address the underlying conditions that drive “irregular” [aka illegal] migration. The initial appropriation was $750M, it’s dwindled to $527M in the latest funding bill. The three nations are putting up a good bit more than this on their own, and the “funding is also being leveraged from a wide range of both private [Soros?] and public sources to accelerate progress.
On the fact-finding trip, members observed various purported signs of progress. “It is in America’s interest to keep doing our part and make sure leaders, businesses and citizens in the Northern Triangle continue to do their part to build a better future and stem the costly flow of irregular migration to the US.”