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 CarperFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules when appointing industry leaders to science boards MORE of Delaware, was highly informative, particularly given the ongoing debate over immigration policy, temporary protected status (TPS), trade, and other related issues.

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I think my fellow travelers – Sens. Carper and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate Democrat releasing book on Trump admin's treatment of migrants at border MORE (Ore.) and Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaMembers to have little time to question Mueller Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Dems demand documents on Trump 'sanctuary city' plan MORE (Calif.), and Donald NorcrossDonald W. NorcrossHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment WHIP LIST: The 87 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry Biden holds lead in 2020 endorsements 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.