Washington, DC – House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a subcommittee hearing on renewing the United States’ commitment to addressing the root causes of migration from Central America. 

Click to Watch

-Opening Statement as Delivered-

“Thank you Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member for holding this very important and timely hearing.

I’ve dealt with this issue probably my entire professional career both as a federal prosecutor in the Western District of Texas, as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee for six years, and now as the Ranking Member of the full committee on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

You will see in these pictures, the recent trip I just returned from the Rio Grande Valley sector. I think as both of you know is the most active, busiest sector down on the border right now. It was, in my judgement, the worst I have ever seen it.

A true humanitarian crisis. A trail of tears coming out of the Rio Grande River to the temporary detention facility and then to the Donna detention facility where these children were 100 percent over capacity in the pod space. 10 percent  have COVID. That five-year-old crying, not knowing where she was, not knowing her parents aren’t there, her family’s not there; she’s five years old.

This should touch all Americans- not just Republicans or Democrats. It’s a sad, sad story and we need to do something about this. When I talked to the border patrol sector chief, he told me that this was not a seasonal phenomenon. That this was a direct cause and effect by recision of certain policies from the previous administration, specifically the “Remain in Mexico” policy and the agreements that were hammered out between Central America, the asylum cooperation agreements.

On the first day of office, President Biden rescinded these agreements. And within two months, we have the worst crisis we have ever seen down there. And the Border Patrol, listen to them not the politicians, they will tell you it’s a direct cause and effect of the President’s actions. I think we can still solve this problem. And we have to. We cannot allow this to go on.

The traffickers quite simply are controlling our borders now, out-resourcing our border patrol agents — better technology, making 15 million dollars a day, almost half a billion dollars a month off of these children that they exploit the forty day trek from Central America, they exploit them and extort, as you know the families, at $5,000-8,000 a child. They have to mortgage their homes, their ranches.

We also need to address the root cause. I can talk all about border security all day long, but until we address the root cause it’s going to continue to happen.

We passed bipartisan, the Chairman, and the former Chairman Eliot Engel and I, the Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act signed into law. It requires, basically, the administration to submit a five year strategy to address the drivers of illegal immigration. And I think that is very prescient looking back on it, and we look forward to the report that is due, I think, within the first six months of this Administration.

I want to close with this, and I have been talking to our ambassadors, Mr. Zúñiga, as I know you have been working very closely. I will be meeting with several of them later today about solutions. One solution I want to throw out to you — that the President’s not willing to take these asylum policies and bring them back in place. We need to look at, I think, a very creative approach.

This Committee authorized into law the Development Finance Corperation. It was designed, essentially, to eliminate the political risk in developing nations to counter the influence of the Chinese Communist Party. I can think of no region in the world where this corporation, the DFC, could fit better, given China’s activities in Central America. I’ve talked to a lot of investors about whether they think that this is an opportunity, and I think that the Development Finance Corporation, as you know, gets a return on its investment.

I would urge you, and I look forward to working with you, the two of you, on this very creative approach that I think from a foreign policy standpoint, I would consider this to be a foreign policy blunder, but I think of foreign policy success for all Americans and this Administration would be to work with the DFC and private investors. 

When I talked to the Ambassador from Guatemala, he told me that that would help more than anything. Throwing billions of dollars down a rabbit hole and corrupt governance isn’t always the answer. But this, I think, creates a very good opportunity that we all should be taking advantage of that can really get to the root cause of the problem.

With that, I yield to the witnesses.”