CREDIT: Evan Vucci/ AP
One House Republican wants the U.S. government to stop international trade agreements with Central American and Mexico because she believes that it would stop the influx of unaccompanied children from escaping violence and dire poverty in those countries.
During a Homeland Security committee hearing Tuesday, Vice Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) overreacted to the unaccompanied children crisis by calling on the government to stop foreign aid — namely the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)– as a means for Mexico and the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to “step up their own responsibilities and stop their citizens from illegally migrating to the U.S.”
We need to stop foreign aid to the Centrals – immediately. Examples of what our USAID is being used for in the Centrals include helping civil society programs, climate change, and addressing the gender gap in education and the workforce. We’d be better off spending this money in the inner cities of America. We can start with Detroit.
No more money from America until they step up their own responsibilities and stop their citizens from illegally migrating to the U.S. … No more financial assistance from the U.S. to the Centrals that are shipping their children here illegally and we need to reopen, reexamine, and perhaps repeal both NAFTA, which is the North American Free Trade Agreement, and I think we need to do the same with CAFTA, which is the Central America Free Trade Agreement. We need to whack them, our neighbors, to understand that they are just not going to keep taking our money and we are just going to be sitting here like this. We are not the ATM machine while this humanitarian crisis is happening with these innocent, innocent children.
The White House announced last Friday that it would increase U.S. monetary assistance to the three Central American countries in order to “stem the tide” of unaccompanied children coming across the border. The $250 million aid package is meant for deported people to have “someplace they can orderly land and then be processed back home.” The programs include $9.6 million to help support Central American governments receiving deported citizens; $40 million to improve citizen security in Guatemala; $25 million to establish 77 youth outreach centers in El Salvador; and $18.5 million to support community policing and law enforcement efforts to confront gangs in Honduras.
The U.S. has long provided foreign aid in order for other countries to maintain stability. In El Salvador, aid has been used to improve the quality of higher education institutions, which in turn allows unemployed youth to stay out of gangs, crime, and poverty. In Guatemala, aid has been used to help develop a violence prevention project, which emphasizes community-based policing. And in Honduras, aid has been spent on improving citizen security to combat narco-trafficking and gang violence. Miller may disapprove of spending money to help these Central American countries, but she has also helped to push through massive foreign aid packages to Iraq and Afghanistan, at 50 times the level of aid to Central America, according to a press release by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-CA).
NAFTA and CAFTA, meanwhile, are both trade agreements intended to boost trade and investment flows between North America and Central America. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, NAFTA links 450 million people producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services.
The Homeland Security hearing was the first of three meetings this week that House Republicans will use to criticize President Obama’s supposed refusal to enforce immigration law. The other two hearings will focus on how the unaccompanied children crisis was “administration-made.”