Since becoming Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last year, I have held countless discussions, numerous hearings, and made several visits to the southern and northern borders and Central America to study the challenges and complexities driving unlawful migration to the United States.
The current situation along our southern border is a large and complex humanitarian challenge that requires immediate attention and resources. President Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson have dispatched an all-hands-on-deck, government-wide response effort to help manage the surge of unaccompanied minors from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
In recent weeks, the Administration has sent more agents and judges to the border, expanded its ability to hold families, and implemented an educational campaign in Central America to warn would-be migrants and their families about the risks involved in the journey. Now, Congress needs to do its job and work in the near-term to stop this surge by approving the President’s request for emergency funding to provide additional resources for agencies responding to the crisis.
But too often, we only treat the symptoms of a problem and fail to address the underlying factors. While Congress and the Administration need to address this immediate influx of individuals and families coming to our borders, the U.S. and our partners—including Mexico, Colombia, the multilateral development banks, the private sector, and institutions of faith—also need to help those countries address those underlying factors, or root causes, that are pushing so many of their young people and families to attempt the trip.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve chaired two hearings to examine this surge of Central American migration:
Last Wednesday, our hearing, “Challenges at the Border: Examining and Addressing the Root Causes Behind the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border,” examined the root causes that are pushing people from Central America to undertake the dangerous trip to the U.S., including the increasing violence and lack of economic opportunity and jobs in the region. It also explored what needs to be done to foster stability and socioeconomic growth in the region so that Central Americans aren’t compelled to leave – including restoring the rule of law, lowering energy costs, improving education and workforce skills and stimulating access to capital.
As Congress and the Administration continue to deliberate this issue, I encourage you to send me your views on this issue, or any other, through email or by contacting me on Twitter @SenatorCarper and on Facebook at facebook.com/tomcarper.