Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement after a meeting today with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and El Salvador Foreign Minister Hugo Martínez:
“For reasons of national security and economic prosperity, the U.S. has a clear interest in helping Central American countries become safe and stable communities built on strong foundations of democracy, the rule of law and free enterprise. Unfortunately, the recent wave of illegal immigration has reminded us of how fragile these foundations are in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, allowing drug cartels and violent criminals to wreak havoc on these countries and dim their people’s hopes of a better future.
“Today I reiterated with our Central American counterparts that it is they who must build a better future at home for their people, with the U.S. as a supportive partner. In light of the recent surge in unlawful border crossings, they owe it to their people to make clear that these dangerous journeys to the U.S. they’ve undertaken are not worth risking their lives for since they will inevitably lead them back to where they started.
“I realize the strong economic support these Central American economies receive through remittances from their people in the U.S., but they need to realize that this support will be non-existent as people are ultimately returned to their home countries or, worse, perish during their journeys north.
“Of course, the U.S. has a clear responsibility to deal with this situation. For instance, we must responsibly change existing law that unnecessarily delays the return of illegal immigrants from Central America to their home countries. In doing so, we must continue balancing our interest in protecting human trafficking victims with our interest in quickly returning people to their countries.
“The U.S. must also make clear that the Deferred Action program, or any law or policy for that matter, does not and will not apply to any recent arrivals. Furthermore, because the recent wave from Central America spiked after DACA was announced, it is in our interest to wind down this program. If you are not currently in it, you should not be eligible for it. For President Obama to raise hopes it may actually be unilaterally expanded is irresponsible and threatens to make this problem even worse.
“As Congress prepares to consider spending proposals to address these problems, we need to make sure that there are adequate resources to deal with the ongoing wave in an expeditious and humanitarian manner, while also providing lasting solutions that discourage illegal immigration. This includes additional fencing, manpower and technology resources on the southwest border, as well as stronger interior enforcement provisions.”