Plan International USA statement on proposed cuts in aid to Central American countries

April 4, 2019

Plan International USA opposes the Trump Administration’s recently announced decision to end up to $450 million in life-saving assistance to the people of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Doing so would only undermine American policy, development and humanitarian goals in these countries. Congressional leaders from both parties agree that U.S. assistance to the region is essential to addressing the root causes of the violence, poverty and displacement that drive migration to the U.S. These cuts are counterproductive. Plan calls on Congress to exercise its prerogative to reverse the administration’s decision.  

Returning from a recent congressional delegation to El Salvador, Rep Mike McCaul (R-TX) defended assistance to the region, stating that “this aid has actually lowered the crime rate, helped the economy. If we don’t address the root cause of the problem through the Central American security initiative, we’re going to continue to have a problem.” Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) also released a statement denouncing the cut, asserting “U.S. foreign assistance is not charity; it advances our strategic interests and funds initiatives that protect American citizens.”

The Administration must begin to view foreign assistance for what it is: a way to improve conditions and strengthen institutions within foreign countries, while also enhancing our own security. Plan’s Participatory Youth Assessment for the USAID Bridges to Employment program in El Salvador found that, “among at-risk young people, 59% want to emigrate; most of them want to leave the country to improve financial opportunity and the rest for security reasons.” Plan, along with several organizations operating in the North of Central America, has proven the effectiveness of foreign assistance in improving lives, supporting communities and ending the violence that forces people to flee. Migration flows to the U.S. will not slow down without investing in improving conditions on the ground. It is important that organizations are able to continue their programming with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State so that fewer people will be forced to leave their homes, resulting in reduced migration to the U.S. border. 

We urge the Administration to preserve foreign assistance to this important region and Congress to act with bipartisan support to protect the much-needed aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Plan International USA

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