This bill — the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act — would authorize $577 million in foreign assistance to the governments of the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras for FY2020 if certain conditions are met. It would also reassert congressional intent by prohibiting the reprogramming, transfer or rescission of Central America foreign assistance funds for. Finally, it would require the Secretary of State, USAID Administrator and other U.S. government officials to promote inclusive growth and development, combat corruption, strengthen democratic institutions and improve security considerations in the Northern Triangle.
Specifically, this bill would:
- Authorize $577 million in foreign assistance to Central America to address the root causes of migration in FY 2020. These funds could not be reprogrammed, transferred or rescinded. The aid would go to the national governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and would have conditions placed on it.
- Require USAID and the State Dept. to develop and report to Congress on annual benchmarks to track the strategy’s progress in addressing the drivers of irregular migration. The report would include information on all criminal activities (including drug and human trafficking, extortion, and gender-based violence) in each country and the extent to which crimes were reported and their perpetrators were investigated.
- Require the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to prioritize inclusive economic growth and development, anti-corruption efforts and strengthening democratic institutions and security conditions in the Northern Triangle. They would be required to develop multi-year strategies and annual progress reports in each area. Additionally, a Senior Rule of Law Advisor for the Northern Triangle would be designated in the State Dept.’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. A feasibility study assessing the establishment of an Investment Fund for the Northern Triangle countries and southern Mexico, to be established by the U.S. International Development FInance Corporation, would also be required.
- Enhance engagement with the Mexican government on the Northern Triangle. To this end, the Secretary of State and various executive branch agencies would be required to support development efforts in southern Mexico and strengthen security cooperation with regard to Mexico’s shared border with Guatemala and Belize.
- Ban visas to and freeze assets of individuals engaged in corruption in the Northern Triangle nations. This would apply to private citizens, public officials and residents of other countries involved in corruption in the Northern Triangle.
- Require advance notification to Congress on security assistance to Northern Triangle countries, regardless of the dollar amount, for the next three years after this bill’s enactment.
To receive the money appropriated in this bill, Northern Triangle governments would have to prove they are meeting 14 criteria, including: informing citizens of the dangers of migrating to the U.S; combatting human trafficking, drug smuggling, and corruption; reforming public institutions and tax policies; ending the role of the military in domestic policing; and supporting programs to end poverty.