GAO Report Examines U.S. Initiatives to Address Migration from Central America

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, highlighted a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that examined the programs initiated by the United States to address the surge of families and unaccompanied minors at our southern border in 2014 and the crime, violence, and economic distress in the Northern Triangle region of Central America driving so many people out of the region.

“This report confirms that endemic violence and economic distress in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – the Northern Triangle – are driving factors that compel children and parents to make a desperate decision and flee to the United States,” said Sen. Carper. “This report outlines a number of federal initiatives aimed at alleviating the root causes of this migration, such as efforts to crack down on smugglers, violence reduction programs, and job training for at-risk youths. It’s encouraging that many of these programs hold promise and are being targeted in new ways to deter migration. While we’re seeing progress, we need to do more to strengthen our efforts in the region and develop better metrics to measure what works best. This includes the ‘truth campaigns’ that warn would-be migrants about the dangers of the trek to the United States. This report’s findings also underscore the need for Congress to support the Administration’s request to devote more resources to Central America to address the hopelessness, violence, and lack of economic opportunity that are unfortunately all too common in communities in the Northern Triangle. While I strongly support the Administration’s request, addressing the root causes in Central America cannot rest solely on our nation’s shoulders. It is a shared responsibility among the United States, the governments of the Northern Triangle, and other partners in the region. Change in these nations won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy, but we do have a moral and fiscal obligation to help our neighbors in the Northern Triangle. If we work together, progress can be made.”

Over the past two years, including as recently as November 2014, Sen. Carper has traveled to the Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, as well as Mexico and Colombia, to study the root causes of Central American migration. Sen. Carper wrote about this issue and what he has learned on his trips to these nations in an op-ed that appeared in The Hill this year: US must help Central American neighbors.

Last year, in his role as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Sen. Carper held the hearing: “Challenges at the Border: Examining and Addressing the Root Causes Behind the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border” and convened a roundtable with key stakeholders across the U.S. government, multilateral investment banks, and non-governmental organizations on what the U.S. government and its partners are currently doing to improve the prospects for citizens of these countries, to identify programs that may be the most effective, and to highlight what actions can be taken.