Senator Carper: Let’s Seize This Window of Opportunity to Help Make Progress in Central America

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, underscored the importance of helping the governments of the Northern Triangle tackle the underlying societal and economic factors that are pushing so many migrants – including children and families – from their countries to make the dangerous 1,500 mile journey to try to enter the United States.

During the committee hearing, “Securing the Border: Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Central American Migration to the United States,” witnesses had an opportunity to share their perspectives on what is driving Central American migration to the United States, particularly from the nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as their views on the recently announced “Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” and related budget request for U.S. aid to the region.

“Last week, we heard about the enormous investments to strengthen the security of our border with Mexico, including the unprecedented number of men and women in uniform patrolling on the ground,” Sen. Carper said. “As we continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in our efforts to secure the border, we should also invest more in helping to reduce the number of people who feel compelled to escape the Northern Triangle – Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador – and seek a better life in the United States. We can do that by helping these governments in their efforts to battle the violence, hopelessness and lack of economic opportunity in the region and work to restore the rule of law in its communities. Corruption and gang violence in communities are widespread, fueled in part by America’s appetite for illegal drugs. Given that our addictions contribute to the misery in the Northern Triangle, we have a moral obligation to contribute to their success. But let me be clear, this is a shared responsibility. The governments of the region must step up, as well as the private sector – they can do it, we can help. I will continue to encourage my colleagues in Congress to join me in this meaningful conversation, and seize this window of opportunity to help make substantial and sustainable progress in Central America, and prevent another expensive and heartbreaking humanitarian crisis on our border.”

You can watch Sen. Carper’s entire opening statement or read his statement, as submitted for the record.

Yesterday, Sen. Carper and Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) held a roundtable with the four U.S. ambassadors to Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize, with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), to gain their perspectives on the progress and challenges in implanting the “Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle” in the countries in which they serve.

“Yesterday’s roundtable was an enlightening discussion about the progress and challenges of implementing the Plan for the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle,” Sen. Carper continued.”As the ambassadors mentioned, the good news is that we’re already seeing promising signs in the region to combat the underlying causes – the rampant corruption, fear of violence, lack of economic opportunity, and hopelessness – that compel so many Central Americans to seek a better life in the United States. The Alliance for Prosperity, much like Plan Colombia, has the potential to combat the drug cartels and gang violence,  bring order to communities, and foster economic growth in the region. But in order to succeed, this strategy will require a sustained focus on – and investment in – the region by the United States and our partners. That’s why I continue to give my steadfast support for the President’s recent request for $1 billion in aid for Central America. There is an unprecedented commitment among these nations to work together – and the United States and its international partners have a historic opportunity to help.”