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- As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks in support of a resolution regarding the fight against Central American corruption (H.Res.145) on the House floor:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this measure, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

“Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Let me start by thanking our chairman on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce of California.  I’m also especially grateful to another colleague from California, Norma Torres–a valuable member of the Foreign Affairs Committee–for authoring this bipartisan resolution and also for her leadership as the founding co-chair of the Central America Caucus.

“Mr. Speaker, when a child from El Salvador or Guatemala or Honduras arrives at our southern border, he or she didn’t get there because it was an easy journey.  It was because poverty or crime or lack of opportunity at home left that child no option but to face that long, dangerous trek.  No child—anywhere—should be forced to make that heartbreaking choice. 

“And the best way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is not to build a wall or isolate ourselves from our neighbors.  It’s to stop children from having to make that journey in the first place.  It’s by making long-term, strategic investments in a more secure and prosperous Central America.

“Over the last two years, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have come together to do just that.  We’ve made a bold, new foreign assistance commitment to Central America that helps address the root causes of child migration from the region.

“A big part of this effort is supporting those individuals who are working day-in and day-out to root out corruption in Central America: the Attorneys General in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the heads of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, and the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras.

“These brave individuals put their lives on the line on a daily basis. This resolution, that we’re voting on, signals that the United States agrees with them and has their backs.

“To Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana, Honduran Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla, Salvadoran Attorney General Douglas Melendez, CICIG Commissioner Ivan Velasquez and MACCIH Chief of Mission Juan Jimenez: today we come to the floor of the House of Representatives to say thank you, and to proclaim that we stand with you and your institutions in the fight against corruption.

“This measure sends the strong message that our Congress–which has the ultimate say over funding for Central America–stands with those who are committed to putting an end to corruption in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“We may have a new President in the White House and a new Secretary of State at Foggy Bottom, but Congress continues to have the power of the purse.

“And Democrats and Republicans alike believe that continued international support for the Attorneys General and CICIG and MACCIH is key to the continued success of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.

“In December, I led a letter to the Attorneys General from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, along with Representative Ros-Lehtinen and several other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, commending their efforts, pledging our ongoing support, and most importantly, knowing how crucial it is that they be able to carry out their work free from any interferences from political leaders in their countries.

“With passage of this H. Res. 145, the entire House of Representatives can and will send that same message.

“So I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution, and I reserve the balance of my time.”