Following recent outrage over President Donald Trump's decision to slash aid to Central American countries, a new report out Friday details how his administration has "manufactured" a crisis at the southern border and offers policy solutions for how the U.S. can better address the flood of asylum-seekers from the region.
The report—titled Disorder by Design: A Manufactured U.S. Emergency and the Real Crisis in Central America (pdf)—was published by the New York-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) and relies on first-hand accounts from beneficiaries, partners, and staff on the ground in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
It comes after Trump's threats to completely close the U.S.-Mexico border and the State Department's confirmation that the administration is cutting hundreds of millions dollars in aid to the three Northern Triangle countries—which critics warn will "only foster the same instability that is making people flee in the first place."
"The administration's policy toward the Northern Triangle is both inhumane and illogical," declared IRC president and CEO David Miliband. "Cutting aid, closing borders, and returning thousands to unsafe and unstable countries is bad policy and bad strategy—putting lives and American interests at risk."
"For too long the crisis in the Northern Triangle has been defined by those arriving at the border," added Miliband, who visited El Salvador last month. "Yet that lens fails to address why they are coming—the mothers, fathers, and children I met, who just want to be safe in their homes and communities."
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His group's new report outlines the current conditions in all three countries, as well as the Trump administration's past two years of attacks on vulnerable populations, and puts forth U.S. policy proposals to target the root causes of the regional migration crisis.
The IRC urges the Trump administration to:
- Reverse its decision to cut foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, with special attention given to education to deter gang recruitment;
- Halt the "Remain in Mexico" program that forcibly returns asylum-seekers to Mexico to await their immigration hearings;
- Stop the practice of "metering," or limiting how many asylum-seekers are processed daily, at the southern border;
- Reinstate the Central American Minors (CAM) program;
- Sustain the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Northern Triangle countries and provide them a permanent solution;
- Refrain from rolling back safeguards for children;
- Reinstate the Family Case Management Program for immigration court hearings; and
- Ensure that it meets this year's presidential determination of 30,000 refugees and sets an admissions ceiling of no less than 75,000 for the next fiscal year.
The organization also issued some demands of federal lawmakers, calling on Congress to:
- Ensure that funding it has appropriated for aid to Northern Triangle countries is spent by the Trump administration;
- Act to stop the administration from detaining migrant children;
- Appropriate funds to pilot an expansion of the existing Legal Orientation Program; and
- Support the GRACE Act, sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), which would raise the refugee admissions floor to 95,000.
Given the ongoing crises in these countries—which Trump's policies will continue to exacerbate—the report concludes, "Now is the time to do more, not less."