Our alliance has acted collectively in multiple ways and at various times over the past few months in response to a proposed cut-off of assistance to the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
On April 1, 2019, more than 70 organizations issued the following statement in response to announcements by the Trump Administration that it is ending foreign assistance programs in the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
By cutting off poverty-alleviating and violence-reducing assistance to the people and civil society organizations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the Trump Administration is taking a step that undermines its own policy goals and runs counter to American values and interests. For years, leaders from both parties have supported U.S. development and humanitarian aid to Central America. That is because these relatively small investments address the grinding poverty, instability and human rights concerns at the root of displacement. The current levels of violence and suffering in the Northern Triangle of Central America risk severe further deterioration if development and humanitarian assistance is withdrawn.
Sadly, the unpredictability and volatility that stem from such chaotic policy decisions can erode the effectiveness of foreign assistance. The Administration frequently views U.S. foreign assistance only in transactional terms and not as part of a long-term strategy.
In response to this short-sighted and irresponsible decision, we urge Congress to demonstrate strong bipartisan support for aid to Central America. Signatories can be found HERE.
On April 30, 2019, members of InterAction and partners of the U.S government sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo urging the administration to reconsider the elimination of poverty-focused assistance programs in the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
U.S. investments in the Northern Triangle have a proven impact supporting families and communities across the region. U.S. led programs, in partnership with many of the undersigned agencies, increase access to education, combat malnutrition, support credible democratic processes, improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for citizens, strengthen the rule of law and anti-corruption bodies, and reduce crime and violence. Without U.S. resources, many of these critical programs will not survive. U.S.-sponsored programming is crucial to catalyze investments and effective engagement from other country donors, local civil society, and the private sector. Read the letter HERE.
On June 24, 2019, InterAction and over 70 other NGOs released a statement in response to the redirection of funds from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as officially restated by the Department of State on June 17, 2019.
Distressing levels of gang and gender-based violence along with worsening poverty and hunger are displacing thousands of people in the Northern Triangle. Eliminating poverty-focused U.S. government funded assistance to the area and abandoning poor and vulnerable communities is counterproductive, short-sighted, and results in increased irregular migration. Empowering the most vulnerable reflects the best values of the American character and is essential to global human security.
We urge Congress to pass legislation now to prevent these cuts and protect future funding for the region. This ensures that the U.S. continues to play a leadership role in supporting communities and addressing the root causes of irregular migration in the region. Signatories can be found HERE.
Reactions from partner organizations:
- Alliance for Peacebuilding
- The Alliance for International Youth Development
- CARE USA
- Catholic Relief Services: Statement and Op-Ed
- Evangelical Immigration Table
- Latin America Working Group
- Mercy Corps Statement and Report
- Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN)
- PLAN International USA
- U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC)
- World Vision: Statement and Op-Ed
Reactions to cut-off in aid from members of Congress:
- “…we are extremely disappointed to learn that President Trump intends to cut off aid to the region. The President’s approach is entirely counterproductive.”- Statement from Reps. Eliot L. Engel, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Pramila Jayapal, and Adriano Espaillat
- “…stopping [aid] wholesale is going to exacerbate the problem…” –Interview with Rep. Will Hurd on NPR
- “…decision to cut off our assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras would undermine American interests and put our national security at risk” – Statement from Sen. Bob Menendez
- “Reducing support to CentAm & closing the border with Mexico would be counterproductive.”- Sen. Marco Rubio via Twitter
- “The decision to stop foreign assistance to Central America. . . is reckless and counterproductive.” – Statement from Sen. Ben Cardin
- “…the decision to cut funding will make the economic and security situations in Central America worse, not better, triggering more migration, not less, to the United States.” –House Foreign Affairs Lead Republican Michael McCaul at HFAC hearing on foreign assistance to Central America
- “These cuts will only exacerbate the issue.” – Rep. Karen Bass via Twitter
- “I intend to review this attempt to circumvent #bipartisan support for foreign aid.” – Rep. Ami Bera via Twitter
- “Ultimately, this short-sighted and flawed decision lays the groundwork for the humanitarian crisis at our border to escalate further. We must work to stabilize these countries by continuing to provide critical aid and resources. We should not turn our back on our international partners or else we will never be able to effectively and comprehensively address the humanitarian crisis at our border.” – Statement from Rep. Joaquin Castro
- “[continuing aid] actually saves us money” – Salt Lake Tribune article quoting Rep. John Curtis
- “Foreign assistance is not charity. We invest in people and countries around the world because it is in our own national interest. Investing in diplomacy and development prevents the outbreak of conflict. It saves U.S. taxpayer dollars. Most importantly, it saves American lives by preventing the deployment of U.S. service members to dangerous parts of the world.” – Rep. Theodore Deutch at HFAC hearing on foreign assistance to Central America
- “The little bit of good news I’ve seen since this decision was announced is the complete, bipartisan rejection of this misguided and counterproductive decision.” – Rep. Eliot Engel at HFAC hearing on foreign assistance to Central America
- “This policy will ultimately fail if not abandoned – resulting in higher crime, fewer jobs, and incentivizing more mass migration.” – Statement from Rep. Vincente Gonzalez
- “Can you think of any precedent, historical precedent, in which the United States has urged another country to stop people from leaving?” – Rep. Tom Malinowski at HFAC hearing on foreign assistance to Central America
- “Closing our borders with Mexico and cutting aid to Central America is shortsighted and the wrong move for people and our economy.” – Rep. Dean Phillips via Twitter
- “Cutting off aid to countries terrorized by violence and overcome by devastating poverty is shameful.” – Rep. Juan Vargas via Twitter
- “Cutting aid only increases [Central Americans’] desperation.” – Sen. Jeff Merkley via Twitter
- “Cutting aid to Central American countries makes zero sense – if you want to decrease flows of asylum seekers then help fix conditions that lead families to flee in the first place. – Sen. Chris Murphy via Twitter
- “This assistance supports efforts to address the challenging economic and security conditions that help form the root causes of mass child and family migration to the United States. It also enables us to combat transnational gangs, like MS-13, that are a threat to our communities here at home. Assistance under the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America is having positive results, and while improvements can be made, we believe that cutting assistance would be counterproductive and lead to increased migration flows to the U.S.” – Letter to Secretary Pompeo from Reps. Eliot Engel and Michael McCaul
- “Millions of dollars in aid provided to communities through non-governmental organizations is now in jeopardy. Multiple programs that are demonstrating results—reducing violence at the local level, helping young people find jobs, and reducing the rates of malnutrition in rural areas—will be forced to close their doors. Non-governmental organizations and U.S. governmental entities who have made commitments to local partners will be forced to renege on those commitments,” – Letter to Secretary Pompeo from Reps. Norma J. Torres and Albio Sires