Carper Statement on President Trump’s Comments Regarding the Northern Triangle

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a statement regarding President Trump’s comments about aid to Central America. The President’s tweet comes hours after Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s trip to Central America where leaders signed a regional compact to address the irregular migration at the U.S. Southern border.

“The President’s comment today about the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador cannot go unchallenged. Unlike the President, I’ve been to the Northern Triangle multiple times. I’ve traveled with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, military leaders, policy experts and cabinet secretaries. What we’ve learned over the years, is that no wall from sea to shining sea, no barrier and no single deterrent policy in the United States will keep families in Central America from fleeing for their lives. Until we address the misery in their homelands – misery in which the United States is complicit – we will continue to see migrants desperately seeking safe haven at our border. It is in the best interest of not only the Northern Triangle countries, but the United States to work together to improve conditions in Central America.

“I will be the first person to work with interested parties to ensure countries on the receiving end of U.S. assistance live up to their obligations. It’s why I included mechanisms in a bill I introduced last year, the Central American Reform and Enforcement Act, to ensure assistance funding for the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala is distributed only if conditions set by the State Department are being met. Specifically, the State Department must certify that the Northern Triangle governments are implementing reforms and making progress on critical priorities to effectively manage the endemic violence and humanitarian crisis that has plagued the region. It’s also why I recently traveled to Central America with my House and Senate colleagues on a fact-finding mission to assess the effectiveness of the Alliance for Prosperity – a plan that then-Vice President Biden helped to develop in order to address the underlying conditions that drive irregular migration from the Northern Triangle. While there is still much work to be done, there are early indications that this funding has been effective. For instance, since 2009, Guatemala’s homicide rate has been cut in half. After taking serious steps to professionalize its police force, Honduras has reduced kidnappings by nearly 80 percent since 2014. And El Salvador’s murder rate has been cut in half since 2015. And it’s important to note that, for every dollar the U.S. puts toward this effort, the governments of these three nations are putting in between $4 and $7 of their own.

“For President Trump to suggest that funding isn’t worth our country’s time or resources makes absolutely no sense and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue at hand. Members of both parties have consistently agreed on the need to address the root causes of the irregular migration to our Southern border. What’s more, just yesterday, President Trump’s own Secretary of Homeland Security underscored the need to ‘confront root causes of the crisis on our border.’ Anyone who has taken the time to understand this issue would arrive at that reasonable solution. It’s also why, over the last two years, Congress has voted in a bipartisan way to restore funding for the Alliance for Prosperity at levels higher than the Trump Administration has requested.

“We cannot address irregular migration by continuing to be fixated solely on the symptoms of the problem. You wouldn’t hope to heal a serious medical condition with a Band-Aid. Let’s be smart and work together to seriously address the root causes that force so many migrants to flee so that families can live safe, prosperous lives in their homelands.”