When President Trump signed an executive order ending the separation of children from their families at the border, it did not end the crisis in Central America. Nor should it relieve our moral anguish at seeing the poorest and most vulnerable treated in ways that are fundamentally at odds with our nation’s values.
The moment also calls for a renewed focus on the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America — the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which together represent the overwhelming source of migrants crossing our southern border. Unless we address the root causes driving migration from this region, any solutions focused solely on border protection and immigration enforcement will be insufficient.
This is terrain I know all too well. In 2014, President Barack Obama asked me to lead the international response to the surge of migrants that ultimately resulted in 68,000 unaccompanied children from Central America crossing into the United States. That summer, I met with Central American leaders in Guatemala to chart a plan to reduce migration, as well as to make it clear that undocumented migration was risky, dangerous and offered scant hope of legal status or citizenship.