WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Ranking Member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, released the following statement in response to the State Department announcement that it would restart “targeted” assistance to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
“The United States of America still is a compassionate nation, although our president has done everything within – and outside of – his constitutional power to denigrate and endanger vulnerable families who are fleeing violence and otherwise being driven from their homes. The Trump Administration’s decision to freeze foreign assistance to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador added to instability in the region and therefore undermined U.S. national security. The decision announced this week to restart limited assistance only after arm-twisting governments to support ill-conceived border policies is appalling. It is still unclear what type of assistance will be provided, and whether the full restoration of assistance will be tied to the President’s anti-immigrant policies.
“Contrary to the Trump Administration’s rhetoric, foreign assistance is not a handout or a gift to foreign governments. Such assistance enjoys widespread, bipartisan support because it directly fights the instability and economic insecurity that drives families to make the dangerous trek from their homes to our borders in the first place. Our assistance supports programs to fight gangs and drug trafficking. It supports programs to combat corruption. It creates educational and economic opportunities that benefit both the U.S. and local economies. Most of this assistance does not go to central governments and much of it supports the work of non-profit and faith-based organizations. The distribution of foreign assistance should be based on true national security interests and not a narrow, partisan political agenda. The administration should immediately release all funds that Congress appropriated to the people of the Northern Triangle. ”