Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss U.S. Foreign Aid To Central America

Washington Post: Trump’s response to the migrant caravan will only make things worse
Editorial Board

“…[Severing or substantially reducing foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is] a prescription for more migration, not less. Even in war-torn and impoverished places, people leave their homes and communities reluctantly, abandoning their property, familial roots, and sense of belonging only under extreme economic or physical duress. U.S. aid to Central America is a tiny percentage not just of overall government spending but also of foreign aid generally, but it is critical to countries that are grappling with enormous hardship and migrant outflow. … A more rational policy would double down on U.S. aid programs, with a focus on crime-fighting and security, while allowing would-be migrants to apply and be screened for asylum in their home countries. That could avoid the spectacle of north-bound caravans, such as the one making its way through Mexico right now…” (10/22).

Globe and Mail: Trump can’t stop the migrant caravan by cutting foreign aid and closing the border
Sarah Bermeo, associate professor of public policy and political science at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and author

“U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut foreign aid and close the border with Mexico in response to the migrant caravan that recently left Honduras bound for the United States. These actions will not stop migration, but they will make the U.S. less secure. … Foreign aid targets economic development and security concerns in Central America. … The path to security and economic growth for these countries will be long and complex. Aid can help, but change will take time. … Respecting norms for the treatment of refugees is not advocating for open borders. Open borders allow anyone to come, for any reason. Granting protection to people fleeing violence lets in those who have a genuine fear for their safety. This is consistent with long-held American values and will enhance border security and economic prosperity” (10/23).

The Hill: American foreign aid can be catalyst for change
Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas), chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health

“…While I am encouraged by the work of USAID and non-governmental organizations working in this region, I have been disappointed in the lack of executive leadership in these countries. … [F]oreign aid can be a powerful motivator for our international neighbors. That’s why I first introduced legislation back in July 2014 that would reduce America’s foreign assistance to the countries that send their children to be cared for in the United States. My reasoning is two-fold: First, America’s taxpayers should not be charged twice for the same purpose, in both foreign assistance and [Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS-ORR)] funding. Second, America’s taxpayer dollars must not be permitted to continue to line the pockets of corrupt government officials; Congress must ensure that American aid reaches the organizations on the ground that are truly working to create a better life for these citizens. Some critics of this strategy claim that this approach is harsh or unfair. … To change the status quo and create a better life for those who otherwise would be driven to trek across the Mexican desert to our southern border, the American government must act” (10/23).

Bloomberg: Trump’s Cuts to Central America Aid Will Lead to More Caravans
Shannon O’Neil, senior fellow for Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

“As several thousand Central American migrants moved through [the region] and into Mexico on their way toward the United States, President Trump tweeted that he would begin cutting off foreign aid to these countries. … Not only would such a pullback swell this human tide, it would squander the hard-earned gains and lessons of a decade-long effort to make Central American nations better places to live than to leave. … And dollar for dollar, individual by individual, programs designed to give Central Americans a better future at home are arguably much more cost-effective than the thousands of dollars it can cost per capita to detain, prosecute, and then deport them. For an administration that wants to stop immigration, cutting aid to improve, however modestly, day-to-day conditions in Central America is nonsensical. … [R]educing present or future aid will just send more Central Americans north. … That’s why U.S. aid to these nations must continue. And why the U.S. needs to fix its immigration system, so that would be migrants don’t have to caravan to find a path to safety and opportunity…” (10/23).

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