Policy principles

U.S.-Central America policy should….

  1. Prioritize education and employment.

Especially for urban youth in migrant-sending communities, investment is needed to improve educational systems, expand effective job training, and support the development of small businesses. Youth with few viable opportunities to study or work are particularly vulnerable to gang recruitment.

  1. Expand peacebuilding programs.

Community-level programs can help reduce youth crime and violence. Prevention initiatives that bring together local community groups, churches, social services, police, and government agencies have been shown to make a significant difference in reducing youth violence and victimization.

  1. Invest in agriculture.

Focus investments on communities from which many people migrate. Increase assistance for small-scale agricultural producers, including appropriate infrastructure and programs to improve access to credit and to markets, which have proven to be effective in reducing rural poverty.

  1. Consult with civil society.

U.S.-funded programs should be conditioned on Northern Triangle governments carrying out sustained and credible consultation with a broad range of civil society in the design, implementation and evaluation stages.

U.S. immigration policy should….

  1. End family detention.

When the number of migrants from Central America increased in recent years, the Obama administration responded by opening new family detention centers, hoping to deter future migration. This policy violates international law on the treatment of refugees and has served to further traumatize women and children who have already endured untold suffering.

  1. Stop the raids.

In January 2016, the Obama administration began conducting raids to deport Central American families, mostly women and children, many of whom were victims of persecution and violence in their home countries. Before they are deported, these migrants should be given sufficient chance to obtain a lawyer and apply for asylum and protection.

  1. Ensure due process.

Without legal representation, women with children rarely prevail in immigration court, even after they are able to demonstrate a “credible fear” of returning to their home country. Legislation such as the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act could help ensure that at least minors have lawyers.

Resources for learning more

MCC U.S. Washington Office


Seven ways to support refugees


MCC Latin America blog