U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after meeting with the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and Foreign Minister of El Salvador.
"Today's meeting provided an opportunity for frank discussion about how the U.S. Government and the Governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras can come together to address the root causes of the humanitarian crisis unfolding on the southern border of United States," said Menendez. "As tens of thousands of Central American minors are fleeing violence and crime in the region, we need to forge a new partnership that will create security, peace and safety for children and families in their native countries."
"I was impressed by the Presidents' commitment to crack down on the smugglers that are engaged in acts of human trafficking as they bring unaccompanied children to the United States. They also shared promising reports on their efforts to educate their populations as to the misinformation that these smugglers are spreading about U.S. immigration laws."
"The Presidents also laid out their long-term vision for how a stronger partnership with the United States would improve their governments' ability to combat the flow of illicit drugs through Central America, and to bring economic development and prosperity to their countries. They emphasized that this long-term effort is what will ultimately resolve the current humanitarian crisis and provide Central American youth with real alternatives to joining criminal gangs or fleeing their countries.
"In today's meeting, I made it clear that as the United States looks to increase security and development assistance to Central America, we need to know that our commitment is matched by equal commitments and funding from the Governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. I call on all countries affected by this crisis to recommit to the unwavering partnership that will be needed to bring down murder rates, dismantle criminal networks, and bring inclusive economic growth to Central America."