After leading a bi-partisan House delegation to Central America last weekend, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49) said Tuesday he learned the current immigration crisis is caused by poverty and misunderstanding in the region and the U.S. must take action to stop the flow.
Issa and members of his Oversight and Government Reform Committee visited El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala from Thursday to Sunday to understand the recent border crisis involving unaccompanied children illegally entering the United States. He summarized what he learned in answers to three questions.:
1. Why are children flooding the U.S. border from their home countries in Central America?
Economics and chain migration, he said. In each country, he said, government officials, religious leaders, and nongovernmental organizations reported that a severe lack of economic opportunity is the primary motivational factor for migration to the United States. Parents leave their home country to find work in the United States — often illegally — then send for their children to join them, he said.
2. What do the children believe will happen when they reach the United States?
Issa said a visible lack of deportations to Central American countries lends credibility to “coyotes” who try to convince would-be customers that new U.S. policies will allow children to stay in the United States. He said President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows some illegal aliens who arrived as children to stay in the United States, is well-known and misunderstood.
“The lack of deportations and repatriations — and the lack of anecdotes about migrants making it to the U.S. and being returned home — reinforces the coyotes’ message that children are allowed to stay and encourages more to make the dangerous journey,” he said.
3. What can the United States do to help El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala address this crisis?
Issa said the United States must make it clear that illegal immigration is not rewarded, assist border enforcement in Central America, increase public awareness of the dangerous journey to the U.S., and maintain national efforts to help these countries give their people a better life.
“The U.S. must streamline its deportation process and U.S. officials must forcefully and consistently articulate that illegal immigrants making a dangerous journey will not be allowed to stay if they do not meet strict asylum criteria now or in the future,” he said.
“We must help El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala focus resources on enforcing current laws and enacting new laws that punish those who wantonly smuggle children across our border,” Issa said, adding that “helping build a better future for the people of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala is critical to de-incentivizing the willingness of many to undertake a dangerous journey.”
Issa represents coastal San Diego from Del Mar north, plus Vista and San Marcos, as well as large parts of south Orange County.
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