January 3–6, 2019

Winter 2019 Forum Highlights

The State of the State Budgets for 2019

The January Forum featured Corina Eckl Mulder's annual “State of the State” budgets, which examines each State’s balance sheet and invites Senators to comment on the details. Ms. Mulder’s intimate knowledge of State budgets make this presentation a perennial favorite, especially as budget news continues to improve. She reported that most states expect to reach or exceed their revenue projections, that State spending has been stable, and State year-end balances are growing.

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 1)

Introduction to the Region/Northern Triangle/Historical Perspective

The Forum heard expert reports on the political, social, and economic situations in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and El Salvador and discussed the implications for the States. Dr. Call set the stage for the discussion, providing the background on Central American history in relation to the US, including the causes and outcomes of the wars of the 1970s-1990s, and the social and economic realities in the aftermath of peace in the 1990s-present. He detailed the impacts of immigration, with almost 3.4 million Central Americans migrating to the US by 2015; as well as the evolution to peace, democracy, and capitalist economies. However, he noted that, while slow economic growth is occurring, prospects are dim due to the sustained insecurity and impunity in the region, arising from the persistence of organized crime intertwined with the corrupt states, and the hegemony of gangs.

Trade and the Economies of the Region

Mr. Rooney served as Counselor for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He reported that the region had the most skewed income distribution in the world, with those of European origin controlling the wealth and opportunities, to the exclusion of indigenous peoples. CAFTA worked to hasten and strengthen regional economic integration, industrial development, and opportunities to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Mr. Rooney described the successes and challenges of economic development in the region.

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 2)

Eric L. Olson, Manuel Orozco and Andrew Selee during the Winter 2019 Senate Presidents’ Forum.

Political Climate

Dr. Orozco reported that the global trend points to a present increase of state fragility and political instability in Central America since 2010. He drew a stark picture of the trends, causes, and scenarios that are creating this instability and the implications for US policy in the region. He identified factors contributing to State vulnerability including the erosion of legitimacy among political authorities, the weak rule of law enabling corruption and organized crime, and political party and elite fragmentation. These three problems cause tremendous distraction among elites in ways that precluded them from focusing on key policy priorities, such as economic development, Dr. Oroczo reported.

Transnational Crime

Criminal activity in Central America has direct implications for US State Senate leaders, Mr. Olson pointed out. The region is a bridge, a key part of the transit path for illicit goods entering the US, which is the best market for them. Mr. Olson noted that organized crime exists where the state is weak or where corruption allows collusion between State authorities and organized crime. Mr. Olson discussed the US response to these threats, which is promulgated in the executive order Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, whose goals are to disrupt illicit financial flows and to curb their operations in the US, as well as addressing the security, governance, and economic drivers of illegal immigration and illicit trafficking, and to promote private sector investment in Central America.

Immigration & Migration

Migration from Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) now exceeds that from Mexico, and demographics also are changing with more families and minors trying to cross the border on migration routes through Mexico to Rio Grande Valley or to West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California border areas. Many are leaving due to fear of gangs and gang recruitment. Since 2012, asylum applications from Central Americans have increased 892% reflecting this threat. “We need pragmatic ways to approach migration policy,” Mr. Selee told the Forum, particularly focusing on asylum reform as the key to both fairness and deterrence. States hold the key to integration, Mr. Selee said, success of immigration depends on integration, education opportunities for children of immigrant families, and services and attention to unaccompanied minors.

Matthew Rooney

Managing Director
Bush Institute-SMU
Economic Growth Initiative
George W. Bush Institute

Manuel Orozco, PhD

Director
Migration, Remittances
and Development
Inter-American Dialogue

Eric L. Olson

Consultant
Latin American Program
Mexico Institute
Wilson Center

Corina Eckl Mulder

Consultant and former Director
Leaders Services
National Conference of
State Legislatures

Charles Call, PhD

Associate Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution
American University

Andrew Selee

President
Migration Policy Institute

CONTACT

Senate Presidents’ Forum

579 Broadway

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

 

Tel: 914-693-1818

Copyright © 2019 Senate Presidents' Forum. All rights reserved.

January 3–6, 2019

Winter 2019 Forum Highlights

The State of the State Budgets for 2019

The January Forum featured Corina Eckl Mulder's annual “State of the State” budgets, which examines each State’s balance sheet and invites Senators to comment on the details. Ms. Mulder’s intimate knowledge of State budgets make this presentation a perennial favorite, especially as budget news continues to improve. She reported that most states expect to reach or exceed their revenue projections, that State spending has been stable, and State year-end balances are growing.

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 1)

Introduction to the Region/Northern Triangle/Historical Perspective

The Forum heard expert reports on the political, social, and economic situations in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and El Salvador and discussed the implications for the States. Dr. Call set the stage for the discussion, providing the background on Central American history in relation to the US, including the causes and outcomes of the wars of the 1970s-1990s, and the social and economic realities in the aftermath of peace in the 1990s-present. He detailed the impacts of immigration, with almost 3.4 million Central Americans migrating to the US by 2015; as well as the evolution to peace, democracy, and capitalist economies. However, he noted that, while slow economic growth is occurring, prospects are dim due to the sustained insecurity and impunity in the region, arising from the persistence of organized crime intertwined with the corrupt states, and the hegemony of gangs.

Trade and the Economies of the Region

Mr. Rooney served as Counselor for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He reported that the region had the most skewed income distribution in the world, with those of European origin controlling the wealth and opportunities, to the exclusion of indigenous peoples. CAFTA worked to hasten and strengthen regional economic integration, industrial development, and opportunities to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Mr. Rooney described the successes and challenges of economic development in the region.

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 2)

Political Climate

Dr. Orozco reported that the global trend points to a present increase of state fragility and political instability in Central America since 2010. He drew a stark picture of the trends, causes, and scenarios that are creating this instability and the implications for US policy in the region. He identified factors contributing to State vulnerability including the erosion of legitimacy among political authorities, the weak rule of law enabling corruption and organized crime, and political party and elite fragmentation. These three problems cause tremendous distraction among elites in ways that precluded them from focusing on key policy priorities, such as economic development, Dr. Oroczo reported.

Transnational Crime

Criminal activity in Central America has direct implications for US State Senate leaders, Mr. Olson pointed out. The region is a bridge, a key part of the transit path for illicit goods entering the US, which is the best market for them. Mr. Olson noted that organized crime exists where the state is weak or where corruption allows collusion between State authorities and organized crime. Mr. Olson discussed the US response to these threats, which is promulgated in the executive order Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, whose goals are to disrupt illicit financial flows and to curb their operations in the US, as well as addressing the security, governance, and economic drivers of illegal immigration and illicit trafficking, and to promote private sector investment in Central America.

Immigration & Migration

Migration from Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) now exceeds that from Mexico, and demographics also are changing with more families and minors trying to cross the border on migration routes through Mexico to Rio Grande Valley or to West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California border areas. Many are leaving due to fear of gangs and gang recruitment. Since 2012, asylum applications from Central Americans have increased 892% reflecting this threat. “We need pragmatic ways to approach migration policy,” Mr. Selee told the Forum, particularly focusing on asylum reform as the key to both fairness and deterrence. States hold the key to integration, Mr. Selee said, success of immigration depends on integration, education opportunities for children of immigrant families, and services and attention to unaccompanied minors.

SJANUARY 3–6, 2019

Winter 2019 Forum Highlights

The State of the State Budgets for 2019

Corina Eckl Mulder

Consultant and former Director
Leaders Services
National Conference of State Legislatures

The January Forum featured Corina Eckl Mulder's annual “State of the State” budgets, which examines each State’s balance sheet and invites Senators to comment on the details. Ms. Mulder’s intimate knowledge of State budgets make this presentation a perennial favorite, especially as budget news continues to improve. She reported that most states expect to reach or exceed their revenue projections, that State spending has been stable, and State year-end balances are growing.

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 1)

Introduction to the Region/Northern Triangle/Historical Perspective

Charles Call, PhD

Associate Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution
American University

The Forum heard expert reports on the political, social, and economic situations in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and El Salvador and discussed the implications for the States. Dr. Call set the stage for the discussion, providing the background on Central American history in relation to the US, including the causes and outcomes of the wars of the 1970s-1990s, and the social and economic realities in the aftermath of peace in the 1990s-present. He detailed the impacts of immigration, with almost 3.4 million Central Americans migrating to the US by 2015; as well as the evolution to peace, democracy, and capitalist economies. However, he noted that, while slow economic growth is occurring, prospects are dim due to the sustained insecurity and impunity in the region, arising from the persistence of organized crime intertwined with the corrupt states, and the hegemony of gangs.

Trade and the Economies of the Region

Matthew Rooney

Managing Director
Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative
George W. Bush Institute

Mr. Rooney served as Counselor for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He reported that the region had the most skewed income distribution in the world, with those of European origin controlling the wealth and opportunities, to the exclusion of indigenous peoples. CAFTA worked to hasten and strengthen regional economic integration, industrial development, and opportunities to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Mr. Rooney described the successes and challenges of economic development in the region.

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 2)

Political Climate

Manuel Orozco, PhD

Director
Migration, Remittances and Development
Inter-American Dialogue

Dr. Orozco reported that the global trend points to a present increase of state fragility and political instability in Central America since 2010. He drew a stark picture of the trends, causes, and scenarios that are creating this instability and the implications for US policy in the region. He identified factors contributing to State vulnerability including the erosion of legitimacy among political authorities, the weak rule of law enabling corruption and organized crime, and political party and elite fragmentation. These three problems cause tremendous distraction among elites in ways that precluded them from focusing on key policy priorities, such as economic development, Dr. Oroczo reported.

Transnational Crime

Eric L. Olson

Consultant
Latin American Program
Mexico Institute
Wilson Center

Criminal activity in Central America has direct implications for US State Senate leaders, Mr. Olson pointed out. The region is a bridge, a key part of the transit path for illicit goods entering the US, which is the best market for them. Mr. Olson noted that organized crime exists where the state is weak or where corruption allows collusion between State authorities and organized crime.  Mr. Olson discussed the US response to these threats, which is promulgated in the executive order Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, whose goals are to disrupt illicit financial flows and to curb their operations in the US, as well as addressing the security, governance, and economic drivers of illegal immigration and illicit trafficking, and to promote private sector investment in Central America.

Immigration & Migration

Andrew Selee

President
Migration Policy Institute

Migration from Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) now exceeds that from Mexico, and demographics also are changing with more families and minors trying to cross the border on migration routes through Mexico to Rio Grande Valley or to West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California border areas. Many are leaving due to fear of gangs and gang recruitment. Since 2012, asylum applications from Central Americans have increased 892% reflecting this threat. “We need pragmatic ways to approach migration policy,” Mr. Selee told the Forum, particularly focusing on asylum reform as the key to both fairness and deterrence. States hold the key to integration, Mr. Selee said, success of immigration depends on integration, education opportunities for children of immigrant families, and services and attention to unaccompanied minors.