More Aid Won’t Stop Central America’s Migrant Crisis

What U.S. Aid Can and Can’t Achieve in the Northern Triangle

A group of migrants from Honduras en route to the United States in Frontera Hidalgo, Mexico, April 2019 José Cabezas / REUTERS

Last month set a dubious record for U.S. immigration policy. More than 100,000 asylum-seekers reached the country’s southern border in March—the highest number in more than a decade. Detention areas are overflowing, and stories of children being separated from their parents at the border have left an unfortunate mark on American political discourse. As in previous years, most migrants set out from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras—also known as the Northern Triangle—to escape gang violence, poverty, and lack of opportunity.

Instead of addressing the root causes of the desperation that drives families and unaccompanied minors to embark on this risky journey, the Trump administration has railed against illegal immigration and drugs while slashing aid to the region. In his first two years, President Donald Trump has cut U.S. funding to Central America, most of which is destined for the Northern Triangle, from nearly $700 million to

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