Rep. Beyer: What I learned In Central America
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Last week I traveled with colleagues to Central America’s Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — where we spent five days meeting with heads of state, law enforcement, business leaders, U.S. ambassadors and diplomatic staff, USAID officials, and working people.

The trip, organized by Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperBiden's challenge: Satisfying the left Dems introduce bill requiring disclosure of guest logs from White House, Trump properties Lobbying world MORE of Delaware, was highly informative, particularly given the ongoing debate over immigration policy, temporary protected status (TPS), trade, and other related issues.

I think my fellow travelers – Sens. Carper and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power Dem senators demand offshore drilling info before Bernhardt confirmation hearing Business groups urge Congress to combat LGBTQ discrimination in workplace MORE (Ore.) and Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaRep. Beyer: What I learned In Central America Dems face internal battle over budget Progressives say Congress must reject funding for more ICE agents MORE (Calif.), and Donald NorcrossDonald W. NorcrossNew Jersey Dems tell Pentagon not to use military funds for border wall Rep. Beyer: What I learned In Central America House Dems call on leadership to prioritize opioid epidemic MORE (N.J.) – would agree that what we saw and heard was both depressing and encouraging.

It is clear that the top mission of our U.S. presence in these countries is changing the conditions which drive irregular migration attempts to the United States. We are attacking the corruption, especially within the governments, which undermines citizen confidence that their countries will progress.  We are training police forces to deal with both gang violence and narcotics trafficking, with significant reductions in the murder rates in all three countries.  And we are investing in the conditions necessary for economic growth, especially the training of young people for jobs that pay much more than the minimum wage.

Our top concern was the decline in presidential support for U.S. initiatives to support economic growth and improved security in the region, and the naive idea that a wall on a border more than a thousand miles north will be any disincentive for jobless people living in fear of violence. The notion that a wall would magically solve the complex problems which cause people to flee to the United States was not borne out by what we saw.

Instead, we saw again and again that when we help create conditions of the most modest prosperity, when we reduce the fear of imminent violence, and when folks believe things will get better, it greatly reduces people’s desire to emigrate to the United States.

The most effective way for us to deal with unwanted immigration is to address the root causes in the developing economies of the Northern Triangle. We have already made a significant difference, but there is so much more we can and must do.

We should begin by shifting the useless waste of taxpayer funds in a silly border wall into greater investment into the Alliance for Prosperity, into our law enforcement efforts, and into diplomacy which will ensure ever less corrupt and more responsive governments.

My colleagues and I will be sharing these lessons with our colleagues this week, as Congress takes up a measure to reject the president’s fake national emergency, and beyond it as we look for humane, practical solutions to improve our immigration system and our relationships with these nations.

Beyer represents Virginia’s 8th District.