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Engel Welcomes GAO Report on Reintegration of Central American Migrants

ENGEL WELCOMES GAO REPORT ON REINTEGRATION OF CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANTS

U.S. Assistance Must Better Respond to Returnee Needs, Promote Economic Development, and Ease Trauma

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today welcomed the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report he commissioned on U.S. support for Central American efforts to reintegrate returning migrants into their home countries. The report, which is the first ever comprehensive look at USAID assistance for reintegration efforts, demonstrates that while immediate efforts to repatriate returnees have been well funded, much more remains to be done in providing long-term opportunities for these individuals.

“The challenges facing Central American migrants who are deported back to their home countries are unimaginable. While I am pleased that U.S. investments are supporting these people immediately upon their return to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, that assistance clearly isn’t enough. The Trump Administration must help returnees reintegrate into their societies and promote stronger local economies where people will remain and build livelihoods. Given the trauma that many of these people suffer—in no small part as a result of President Trump’s inhumane approach to migrants—psychosocial services for returnees must also be significantly scaled up,” said Rep. Engel.

The report finds the following:

•        With limited resources available for reintegration, very few returning migrants are connected with appropriate government services;

•        There is a need for individualized services as “each returning migrant has a different set of needs, skills and interests, but providing customized assistance takes time and resources;

•        With USAID support, the International Organization for Migration has renovated seven reception centers and shelters in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and improved the collection of migrant data to help make future decisions on the nature of reintegration assistance;

•        USAID has not yet assessed the effectiveness of reintegration efforts it has funded and must do so in order to better structure future programs; and

•        Inter-American Foundation reintegration efforts, while small financially, have eased the transition of returnees.