Can development cooperation prevent another US border crisis?

The secondary fence at the U.S.-Mexico border. Can development help provide alternatives to youth emigration from Central American countries? Photo by: BBC World Service / CC BY-NC

The presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are meeting Friday in Washington, D.C. to present a plan aimed at reducing emigration from their countries by spurring economic opportunities for would-be migrants.

The Plan of the Alliance for the Prosperity of the Northern Triangle, which the Central American leaders developed with the help of the Inter-American Development Bank, was spurred by growing concerns about the influx of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence from the region and arriving at the U.S. border this past summer.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will attend the event and offer his views on how the United States can contribute to the plan’s goals. IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno will moderate the discussions.

The presidents — Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador, Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras — will focus on how attracting investment in infrastructure, creating jobs for youth and improving investment climate through better transparency and institutions can help retain human capital at home.

Adriana Beltrán, who leads the citizen security program at the Washington Office on Latin America, said the plan features an increased focus on development as a solution to security problems causing emigration.

“The plan is heavily focused on economic development — it mentions job creation, education training, infrastructure and big projects that will generate economic development and attract investment,” she told Devex.

The issue of unaccompanied minors refocused international attention on development issues Latin America, Beltran said, and this panel provides an opportunity for regional leaders to work with their U.S. counterparts — as well as multilateral representatives — to create a long-term strategy to address the region’s development challenges.

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About the author

  • Claire Luke

    Claire is a journalist passionate about all things development, with a particular interest in labor, having worked previously for the Indonesia-based International Labor Organization. She has experience reporting in Cambodia, Nicaragua and Burma, and is happy to be immersed in the action of D.C. Claire is a master's candidate in development economics at the George Washington Elliott School of International Affairs and received her bachelor's degree in political philosophy from the College of the Holy Cross.