WASHINGTON – Last week, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, traveled to Mexico and Central America and met with government officials, as well as key leaders in the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to discuss regional efforts to address the root causes of migration to the United States from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Specifically, Senator Carper focused on current initiatives being implemented under the Alliance for Prosperity to bolster security and economic opportunity in the region and improve the prospects of citizens of these countries.
“Often, we focus too much attention to the symptoms of problems rather than trying to fix the underlying causes. This is particularly true when it comes to securing our borders and addressing the unprecedented migration of families and unaccompanied children coming to our country from Central America,” said Senator Carper. “My latest visit to the region gave me the opportunity to sit down with leaders in Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador and hear from them, first-hand, about their progress in upholding their commitment to the Alliance for Prosperity and their work to address the root causes of migration, including promoting economic opportunity, reestablishing rule of law, tackling violence, and inspiring hope in the Northern Triangle. It also reinforced what we must continue to do to complement and support our neighbors’ ongoing efforts to improve their citizens’ lives.”
In Mexico, Senator Carper met with key leaders including Roberta Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; Humberto Roque Villanueva, SEGOB Undersecretary for Migration, Population and Religious Affairs; Ardelio Vargas, National Migration Commissioner; and Refugee Commissioner Sandra Velasco Ludlow to discuss U.S.-Mexico relations, the flow of migrants through Mexico, and issues concerning drug and human trafficking. Senator Carper also met with Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu to highlight how Mexico is engaging with Central American leaders to tackle the underlying causes of migration. Senator Carper also spent time with Maria Eugenia Casar, Executive Director of the Mexican International Development Agency (AMEXCID), to hear about ongoing efforts to boost development in Mexico and across Central America.
In Guatemala, Senator Carper met with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Todd Robinson, Congressional Representatives Jean Paul Briere and Maria Eugenia Tabush, and other Guatemalan officials about implementation of the Alliance for Prosperity and updates regarding migration, economic development and education in Guatemala. He also met with the first Women's Caucus of the Guatemalan Congress and shared strategies for strengthening political participation among women in the country. Senator Carper visited Villa Nueva Model Police Precinct to see local community policing and crime prevention efforts and also toured Fe y Alegria, a school offering free, quality education to impoverished children living in the country’s neediest communities.
In El Salvador, Senator Carper met with U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Elizabeth Manes and key justice sector leaders -- including Deputy Attorney General Roberto Parada Viscarra, National Police Director Howard Cotto and members of the Supreme Court -- to discuss efforts underway to combat violence and corruption in the country. While in El Salvador, Senator Carper visited a repatriation facility where Salvadorans returning to their country receive support services and met with employees at League Collegiate Outfitters, a clothing manufacturer that offers education and work opportunities to Salvadorans, including the disabled and former gang members. Senator Carper also joined a discussion with Salvadoran economic officials and business leaders to discuss security issues and economic opportunity initiatives in El Salvador.
Over the past two years, Senator Carper has repeatedly traveled to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, as well as Mexico and Colombia, to study the root causes of Central American migration. In December 2015, Senator Carper released the report, Stronger Neighbors - Stronger Borders: Addressing the Root Causes of the Migration Surge from Central America that found that the ongoing migration surge from the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador reflects troubled conditions in those countries. He has also been a strong advocate for providing much-needed resources to address the underlying causes of migration from Central America and helped to secure $750 million to do so in the Fiscal Year 2016 spending bill.
“By working to tackle the root causes driving migration to the United States, and helping these countries help themselves, we will not only strengthen America, but we will also help to create a stable, safe, and economically resilient region to our south, and help end preventable humanitarian crises at our border,” noted Senator Carper.
In November 2014, the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador – joined by Vice President Joe Biden – announced their commitment to the “Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.” The Alliance for Prosperity directs action in four key areas: fostering economic growth by strengthening trade and building critical infrastructure such as roads, energy pipelines, and the electric grid; investing in education and workforce development; promoting the rule of law by tackling corruption, improving public safety, and strengthening the judicial system; and rebuilding citizens' trust in the government by increasing transparency and improving the delivery of basic services. On his most recent trip, Senator Carper saw the initiatives being implemented in these countries under the Alliance for Prosperity.