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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Proposes Interventions to Address Root Causes of the Humanitarian Border Situation
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Proposes Interventions to Address Root Causes of the Humanitarian Border Situation

Washington, D.C. — Coinciding with the Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran presidents’ visit to Washington, D.C., a new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress aims to bring clarity to the humanitarian situation at the U.S. southern border created by the dramatic increase in children fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. As outlined in the report, CAP experts believe that a solution to the root causes requires a range of sustainable interventions across northern Central America, as well as increased international assistance.

“Only with a unified commitment from political, economic, and civic leaders in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to address citizen security and economic development in an integrated way can the United States effectively support the governmental and nongovernmental partners needed to achieve short-, medium-, and long-term success,” said Dan Restrepo, co-author of the report and a CAP Senior Fellow.

The brief puts the number of people leaving El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—the area known as the Northern Triangle—into context and analyzes the host of drivers in Central America that have caused the significant increase in children leaving their countries. It then prescribes a series of foreign policy steps to facilitate management of the situation, as well as to address the long-term root causes pushing the unaccompanied minors to flee their home countries.

As the report points out, the number and demographic composition of the new arrivals has changed over the past few years, and the United States is not the only country in the area experiencing this surge. Much of this surge stems from the interrelated challenges of organized criminal violence and poverty that adversely affect individuals in Northern Triangle countries, with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador identified as three of the five most dangerous countries in the world in 2013.

In order to stem the increasing number of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their countries, co-authors Dan Restrepo and Ann Garcia establish that both short- and long-term solutions are required, both in the United States and in the Northern Triangle countries.

Recommendations for the Northern Triangle countries outlined in the report include:

  • Creating and supporting robust state security institutions
  • Enhancing accountability of the judiciary and police forces
  • Fostering regional cooperation

Recommendations for U.S. assistance outlined in the report include:

  • Encouraging a whole-society approach
  • Enhancing international accountability
  • Increasing U.S. investment in development and citizen security
  • Leveraging trilateral cooperation with Colombia and Mexico
  • Enhancing the targeting of transnational criminal organizations
  • Limiting military involvement

Read the report: The Surge of Unaccompanied Children from Central America by Dan Restrepo and Ann Garcia

Related resources: 

To speak to an expert, please contact Tanya S. Arditi at [email protected] or 202.741.6258.