Within the past two years or so, many unaccompanied children—some 60,000 last year alone—have been apprehended attempting to enter the United States in an undocumented status. Most came from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Gang and drug-related violence, persistent poverty and lack of opportunity, and a desire for family reunification helped fuel the increase in unaccompanied child migrants. Human smuggler networks also exploited these vulnerable children and disseminated misinformation about U.S. immigration policy to drum up business.
The United States is committed to working with the Central American governments to target human smuggling networks, address the underlying factors that fuel migration, and build the governments’ capacity to receive repatriated migrants back into their communities.
At an Inter-American Development Bank-hosted conference on Central America, Vice President Joe Biden stated, “Our countries are linked by family, friendship, by trade, by simple geography. And what happens to Central America matters to us…We are invested in your future, because it’s a fundamental concern connected to our own concerns.”
The United States has developed a strategy to support the plan undertaken by regional governments and development banks, with a focus on three areas of action: 1) Promoting prosperity and regional economic integration; 2) Enhancing security; and 3) Promoting improved governance.
The Vice President reiterated that it is critical for the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to carry out their commitments under the “Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity of the Northern Triangle.”
Vice President Biden outlined U.S. support for the plan, stating, “What brings us here today is the initiative of the three Presidents sitting behind me to address longstanding challenges... There will have to be a partner, and we are prepared to be one of those partners….” He underscored the United States’ commitment to seeking increases in foreign assistance for Central America to support the plan.
The United States seeks to contribute to the evolution of a Central America that provides greater economic opportunities to its people, accountable and transparent public institutions, and a secure environment for its citizens. Vice President Biden stated, “Up and down the hemisphere, we’ve seen countries lift themselves up…. We have a chance to make Central America part of that story.”