Armed criminal gangs and illicit trafficking organizations have made El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras some of the most volatile places to live. With incidents of violent crime, murder, and corruption growing every year, we are seeing the largest numbers of people fleeing these areas since the armed conflicts in the 1980’s. Neighboring countries have recently experienced a staggering 1,185 percent increase in asylum applications from individuals trying to escape.
On July 14, 2016, Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) introduced new legislation called the Secure the Northern Triangle Act to the House following its June 28, 2016 introduction by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) in response to the catastrophe these three countries are facing. The goal is to help coordinate and respond to the humanitarian crisis that is continuing to grow on a daily basis. Increasing the effectiveness of their judicial system and countering the violence and crime perpetrated by armed criminal gangs, illicit trafficking organizations, and human smugglers are just two of many objectives listed.
The Act outlines a plan for the United States to work with international partners to grow existing programs that aide unaccompanied children, women, and refugees as well as work to strengthen the government’s ability to overcome the struggles they are facing.
The road ahead for the Northern Triangle is uncertain however there is at least a plan of action. While this is not a solution we will see take effect overnight, it is the start to addressing the cries of three countries that need help.