Central American leaders and U.S. Cabinet members are in Miami to figure out how to curtail illegal immigration from Central America. But the big question is whether President Trump is behind the effort to help the beleaguered region.
Central America is a major source of two problems that greatly affect and divide the U.S. – drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Which is why the U.S. and Mexico are hosting a major conference here this week on rebuilding Central American prosperity and security.
Vice President Mike Pence came to Florida International University. And he told Central American leaders the U.S. is committed to helping the region’s northern triangle. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras suffer the worst poverty, corruption and gang violence. El Salvador has the world's highest murder rate, and the northern triangle is considered the deadliest zone in the world outside Syria.
“The consequences of this rampant crime are not restricted to the northern triangle," said Pence. "They radiate outward and swiftly reach us here in the United States...President Trump knows as do all of you that we must confront these problems at their source.”
But Pence also had to quell concerns that Trump’s budget instead cuts funding for Central American aid known as the Alliance for Prosperity – by more than 30 percent – which addresses desperate needs ranging from youth job opportunities to police and judicial reform.
Still, Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno said the conference shows Trump’s administration won’t abandon the Alliance.
“Beyond whatever the budget glitch is," said Moreno, "I have never seen this kind of engagement at this kind of level of the U.S. government for this region in a very, very long time.”
Trump will be in Miami on Friday – but to discuss his changes to Cuba policy.