Rick Santorum is a CNN senior political commentator and a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania. He sits on the Advisory Council of the US Global Leadership Coalition. The views expressed here are solely his. View more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN)I spent eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee standing up against those who would cut and run from battlefields — from Iraq to Afghanistan — where brave Americans had laid down their lives. I still believe that America is at its best when we proudly promote democracy, protect Christians and religious minorities everywhere, and spread our values globally. This is precisely why we need to address the immigration crisis our nation faces.

Rick SantorumRick SantorumRick SantorumI didn’t always agree with Donald Trump when we both ran for President. But I’m glad he has taken aim at the unacceptable status quo on our southern border. If our immigration laws are merely words on a piece of paper, they’re meaningless. President Trump is right to demand greater cooperation from our neighbors and — while I do not believe closing our southern border is ultimately the best solution to this geoeconomic, security, and political problem — the specter of his threat to close the border and cut funding to the Northern Triangle may have been exactly the jolt that’s been needed to achieve change. There’s a grand compromise that can solve this crisis and the Trump administration can seize this moment to negotiate it. It begins with accountability. The President is absolutely right: Governments in the Northern Triangle — Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — have to do more, and this can’t just be about stopping their citizens from coming north. They must fight the underlying systemic problems that are driving mass migration and caravans and their leadership needs to go further, faster. It’s not easy to fix countries mired in poverty. But they can all move to strengthen the rule of law, fight corruption, and reform their judicial systems. Economic reform is also critical to boost revenue to fight drugs and lawlessness. They need to invest in their own modern infrastructure because the gangs start where the roads end.But in this grand bargain, the United States has a role to play. The biggest house on the block has to help lead the neighborhood watch.What a 21st-century border would actually look likeWhat a 21st-century border would actually look likeWhat a 21st-century border would actually look likeAmerica’s commitment to engaging the region fits an “America First” approach, just as it aligns with the foreign policy views I advocated in Congress. I was in the House when the Medellin cartel assassinated judges and Colombian cocaine poured onto the streets of American cities. We helped to change that. When we made possible Colombia’s journey from a failing narco-state to a market for American exports, manufacturers in my home-state of Pennsylvania won. So did families. When poverty sends migrants to escape Central America, it eviscerates law enforcement and busts budgets. Borders matter, but America’s national security and economic prosperity don’t end at a border.Read MoreAnd neither does the influence of our adversaries: Russia is extending its tentacles not just in Venezuela where it props up socialist leaders, but also from Nicaragua into parts of the Northern Triangle. China has committed to train 10,000 political elites in Latin America by 2020. They’re using checkbook diplomacy to buy influence and spread their undemocratic, atheist ideology. We need to strengthen our ties in a neighborhood of shared values not just shared borders.Most fiscal conservatives agree it’s cheaper in the long run to be engaged with both carrots and sticks. For eight years, President Obama was afraid to use a stick, and he telegraphed his weakness to our adversaries in his rush to withdraw from battlefields in other parts of the world before the fight was won. President Trump doesn’t hesitate to get tough. Ultimately, though, the President might need more carrots to solve this crisis.Trump's 'opposite-day' move on foreign aid Trump's 'opposite-day' move on foreign aid Trump's 'opposite-day' move on foreign aid Following the massive surge of migration in 2014, American investments had a multiplier effect. After the US committed $750 million to the Northern Triangle countries three years ago, these countries committed more than seven times that amount — $5.4 billion of their own resources — to help their own people. By 2017, with American assistance, the Northern Triangle had improved security and economic conditions and border-crossing apprehensions were the lowest they had been since 1971. But resources for these initiatives to fight gangs, corruption, and poverty are now down nearly 20% since 2016.Addressing the root causes of trouble is a better investment than inheriting the aftermath, as we see now on our southern border. Foreign assistance is critical, and it’s a bargain compared to the security costs of having failed states on our doorstep. Peru for many years was headed towards narco-state status, competing with Colombia for the title of #1 cocaine producer in the world. But the US State Department has gotten tough on the issue, along with USAID, which in 2015 helped families in Peru plant 19,000 hectares of cacao and coffee to offer an alternative to farming drugs of destruction. Exportable cacao production has skyrocketed.President Trump’s former chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, who was a SOUTHCOM Commander and four-star Marine general, has said, “If we can improve the conditions, the lot of life of Hondurans, Guatemalans, Central Americans, we can do an awful lot to protect the southwest border.” He’s tough on illegal immigration, but crystal clear that tackling the violence and poverty is central to solving the border crisis.Stay up to date…

Sign up for our new newsletter.

Join us on Twitter and Facebook

The President is right to disrupt the status quo. Congress must follow suit. The crisis in Central America and much of South America is a result of neglect from policymakers in the past. Their crises have led to our crisis on the southern border and, unless we act, it will spread into the rest of the country. It’s time for Congress to give the President the tools, including more resources, to craft a deal with our neighbors that works for all of the Americas.

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/28/opinions/northern-triangle-solve-border-crisis-rick-santorum/index.html

[-0.416367]

Comments

comments

Advertisement