Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), the Committee’s Ranking Member, today introduced the United States–Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, which supports the people of Central America and strengthens U.S. national security by addressing the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Francis Rooney (R-FL), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade, are original co-sponsors of the legislation along with Representatives Norma Torres (D-CA) and Ann Wagner (R-MO), the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Central America Caucus, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX).
Chairman Engel said, “It’s a dangerous, terrifying thing to move your entire family to an unknown place. And many people only make that decision when they feel like they have no other option. The best way for the United States to address the challenges facing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is by investing in a safer and more prosperous Central America and helping to create more opportunities for those who live there. This legislation demonstrates Congress’s continued commitment to the people of Central America.”
“Central America continues to face serious economic and security challenges that are threatening regional stability and driving waves of illegal migrants to the United States. In order to address this crisis effectively, we must look to the conditions on the ground. This bill outlines a clear and consistent strategy to provide U.S. assistance in four key areas: economic development; anti-corruption; democracy and governance; and security. It also establishes metrics to ensure that our aid effectively addresses illegal migration and demonstrates that these countries are doing their part to stem the flow. As a Texan, I understand the frustration over the challenges we continue to face at our border and am committed to addressing the root causes of illegal migration and helping to facilitate a more prosperous Central America,” said Ranking Member McCaul.
The United States–Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act authorizes $577 million in foreign assistance to Central America for Fiscal Year 2020 and includes conditions on any assistance that goes to the central governments of the Northern Triangle countries. It reasserts congressional intent by not permitting authorized funds to be reprogrammed, transferred or rescinded. The bill also lays out a series of actions to be taken by the Secretary of State, the Administrator of USAID and other U.S. government officials to promote inclusive economic growth and development, combat corruption, strengthen democratic institutions and improve security conditions in the Northern Triangle.
Full text of the bill can be found here.
Specifically, the United States – Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act does the following:
- Authorizes $577 million in foreign assistance to Central America to address the root causes of migration in Fiscal Year 2020. The legislation does not permit newly authorized funds to be reprogrammed, transferred or rescinded. It includes conditions on any assistance going to the central governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
- Requires State and USAID to develop and report to Congress on annual benchmarks to track the progress of the strategy in addressing the drivers of irregular migration.
- Requires the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to prioritize inclusive economic growth and development, anticorruption, and strengthening democratic institutions and security conditions in the Northern Triangle. Multi-year strategies and annual progress reports are required in each area. The designation of a Senior Rule of Law Advisor for the Northern Triangle in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs is also mandated as is a feasibility study on the establishment of an Investment Fund for the Northern Triangle countries and southern Mexico by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.
- Puts in place targeted visa bans and asset freezes on individuals who are determined to be engaged in acts of corruption impacting the Northern Triangle countries. This includes private citizens, public officials and individuals residing outside of the Northern Triangle who are involved in corruption in these countries.
- Enhances engagement with the Mexican government on the Northern Triangle. The Secretary of State and various executive branch agencies are required to support development efforts in southern Mexico and strengthen security cooperation with regard to Mexico’s shared border with Guatemala and Belize.
- Requires advance notification to Congress on security assistance to Northern Triangle countries, regardless of the dollar amount for the following three years.
# # #