(PRESS RELEASE) – Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s decision to resume a large portion of U.S. assistance to Central America more than a year after it was cut off:
“In March 2019, President Trump cut off U.S. aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in pursuit of his radical, anti-immigrant agenda. As a result of this misguided decision, the United States lost more than a year and $400 million in our long-term effort to address the root causes of child and family migration from Central America. I was in El Salvador leading a congressional delegation when this announcement was made. I saw firsthand the critical programs that were eliminated and met many of the individuals who would be affected by this foolish and counterproductive policy.
“While I am pleased that a large portion of U.S. assistance will resume, our extended absence from the region will have severe long-term consequences. First and foremost, President Trump’s failed policy toward Central America has been a gift to China and other external actors who have relished the void left by the United States. By ending programs and then re-starting them, this approach also will likely end up costing the U.S. taxpayer much more in the long run with far fewer results. That is why last week, I asked the Government Accountability Office to assess the full impact of these aid cuts.
“I look forward to reviewing the Administration’s proposal for renewed assistance to the region. It is essential that our aid return to improving conditions on the ground so that Central Americans are not forced to make the dangerous trek north to the U.S.-Mexico border. This means not using U.S. assistance to pursue extreme, anti-immigrant policies—including the illegal safe-third country agreements that have been used to deny access to the U.S. asylum system—but instead investing once again in a more secure and prosperous Central America.”