Lawmakers headed to Central America to address border crisis

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It won’t be all barbecues and festivals for lawmakers this Labor Day weekend.

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers will head to Central America on Friday to better understand why waves of migrant children have been crossing the southwest border.

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The four-day congressional delegation includes stops in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, according to an itinerary shared with The Hill.

“The point of the trip is to learn more about the conditions and reasons why the kids are leaving and try and look for solutions to the problem,” said an aide familiar with the trip.

During the visit, the lawmakers will huddle with ambassadors, religious leaders and U.S immigration officials. They’ll also make stops at repatriation centers and U.S. Agency for International Development-supported youth outreach centers.

On Saturday, the lawmakers will sit down with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez at the Casa Presidential.

Those confirmed for the holiday-weekend trip include Republican Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford (Okla.); new Republican Study Committee Chairman Rob Woodall (Ga.); and Reps. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), John Carney (D-Del.), Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

Another Texas Democrat, Rep. Joaquín Castro, may also attend.

The visit comes weeks after the House and Senate failed to reach a deal on how to address the flood of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.  

President Obama and Senate Democrats had wanted $3.7 billion in emergency spending to deal with the crisis. The GOP-controlled House approved a much smaller $694 million package.

Other lawmakers are also getting a close look at the immigration crisis.

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a prospective 2016 presidential candidate, visited Guatemala, where he performed free eye surgeries.

And last month, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) led a fact-finding trip to the same three central American countries, with those lawmakers concluding that economic hardships were primarily driving children to leave their homes and make the journey north.

Democrats and the Obama administration, though, have blamed the surge on drug violence in Central America.