Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Central American Leaders on Solving Child Migrant Crisis: We Can't Do It Alone

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Central American Leaders on Solving Child Migrant Crisis: We Can't Do It Alone

Article excerpt

Americans got a preview Thursday of what will be on the minds of the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras when they meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House on Friday. Most of the surge in the child migrant crisis comes from those countries.

Making the rounds on Capitol Hill and at a think tank, two of the presidents - Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala and Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras - said they are working hard to resolve the crisis and its underlying causes. But they can't do it alone.

"There needs to be an aggressive plan," said Mr. Molina, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The foreign minister for Honduras recently proposed a "mini Marshall Plan" for the region, referring to the US effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

"The problem is that both the Central Americans and the Americans are going to say they are doing everything they can. It's not true in either case," said Eric Hershberg, director of American University's Center for Latin American and Latino Studies in Washington.

Both presidents pointed to regional cooperation efforts and reforms in their own countries to get at the root causes of the migrant crisis, which they identified as unprecedented levels of drug violence, a lack of economic opportunity, and poor living conditions.

Add to that the "ambiguities" in US immigration policies and the false promises spread by human traffickers, so-called coyotes, said Mr. Hernandez, who stressed the need for humanitarian treatment of the children who make it to the United States.

Guatemela's president cited his efforts at tax reform to raise revenues for public services, education reform, and the confiscation of arms used in the drug trade - arms that he noted come from the US.

The Honduran president cited the government's work to clean up corrupt judicial and security forces, the shutting of the immigration office because it was in cahoots with drug smugglers, and drug interdiction efforts at sea and in the air. …

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