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Senator Lankford Examines US Assistance to Central America

CLICK HERE to view Sen. Lankford’s Opening Statement & Q&A

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations hearing about United States Assistance for Central America. As the annual congressional budget process begins, the hearing examined the effectiveness of US assistance to countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras).  Such assistance is intended to reduce flows of undocumented migrants and illicit narcotics into the US, and to crack down on transnational crime with roots in Central America that contribute to crimes in the US. As part of the Fiscal Year 2017 omnibus, Congress provided $655 million to Central America to address issues related to illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and crime in the US.

Excerpt from Senator Lankford’s Opening Statement:

This is a tremendous amount of money that needs some accountability and oversight. This [hearing] started with a dream to say what are we doing to encounter narcotics, what are we doing to help stabilize a region of the world that is incredibly important to us, that we are geographically close to, and also relationally close to with people that are Americans that have their heritage in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. But also, what are we doing with immigration. We saw a flood of immigration, starting with 2014, from this particular region, that came into our country illegally. Countries in that area all raised their hand and said, ‘We want our citizens to stay home. We don’t want them to run to another country. We want to have a stable environment here.’

It is to our benefit to have a stable Central America. We want an ongoing trade partner in that area. We want ongoing relationships. This is in our Hemisphere and we should take that into account. …Every tax dollar that is put in place, whether it’s a tax dollar they’re spending locally, they should be able to show people in their own nation how they’re gaining value. We should certainly be able to do that as American citizens, as well. Is the money that is being spent just throwing money [at it], and saying, ‘we did something,’ or what can we show that we accomplished. The metrics of it will be exceptionally important, [considering], millions of dollars were spent. This is what the American taxpayer got from it, and this is how it affected the families and the community in Central America.