Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns expresses concern over Central America aid cutoff

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns joined over 40 U.S.-based faith, human rights, foreign policy, humanitarian, immigrant rights and border-based civil society organizations in an April 4 statement. In their statement, the organizations express deep concern over the Trump Administration’s latest actions on Central America including the wholesale cutoffs of assistance to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Here is an excerpt from the statement: 

We express our deep concern about the Trump Administration’s latest actions regarding the Northern Triangle countries of Central America (NTCA)–Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In addition to threats of closing the U.S.-Mexico border and ongoing illegal actions to deny asylum seekers of their right to seek protection along the border, the administration has announced wholesale cutoffs of assistance to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Far from alleviating the humanitarian crisis, if implemented, these cuts would only fuel the refugee crisis from the region.

The administration’s proposal to cut off programming that specifically addresses the root causes of migration—much of which is implemented via international organizations, humanitarian aid organizations, local governments, and civil society organizations—is counterproductive and misguided. It does not reflect the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the ground and will further increase forced migration. The aid that would be cut off includes violence prevention and response, poverty alleviation, and programs to address corruption, strengthen human rights, and promote the rule of law. 

Instead of this misguided approach, the United States should use a comprehensive approach to address the root causes of forced migration, with well-targeted assistance focusing on reducing structural poverty, promoting decent work, addressing gang and gender-based violence, combating corruption, and strengthening human rights and the rule of law in each of the three countries. Addressing the root causes of migration requires a long-term commitment by the governments of the region, including the United States. 

We urge the Trump Administration to reconsider its proposal to cut anti-corruption, anti-poverty, and anti-violence assistance to Central America. Assistance is a crucial part of U.S. diplomacy and an important piece of addressing the root causes of the ongoing forced migration and displacement. However, it must be done from a rights-based approach. Transparency and accountability should be ensured as well as active consultation with a diverse group of civil society actors in the design and implementation of aid initiatives. We urge members of Congress to ensure that this assistance is fully implemented according to law. 

Cuts to assistance should not be based on whims to pressure governments to deter their citizens from leaving their home countries, as they have a right to seek safety. The administration’s proposals, if implemented, will only fuel greater instability and more migration from the Northern Triangle region.

The full statement reads can be read here: