The United States opening its doors to greater numbers of Central Americans fleeing violence is necessary. However, it is not a solution. The Trump administration has gone all in on deterrence. Charging first time border-crossers with crimes. Separating parents from families. Making it more difficult for people fleeing violence to demonstrate credible fear at the border and winning asylum in the legal system. Threatening Mexico and Honduras if they are unable, or unwilling, to prevent desperate people from reaching the US border.
The Obama administration clearly did not have a pro-human dignity approach to migration. However, there were efforts to make it safer for migrants to apply for asylum in their own countries without passing through treacherous terrain in Mexico. Of course, that was at the same time that the US administration sent additional resources to Mexico for it to fortify its southern border with Guatemala. The difference between the Obama and Trump on immigration is significant but more a matter of degree.
The Obama administration also pushed for $1 billion in assistance to the region to tackle the root causes of why people are fleeing. The amount on its own was not enough but it was a good start. Unfortunately, it's not clear yet what that money has accomplished and whether anymore will be forthcoming from this administration. The previous administration supported rule of law programs like CICIG and MACCIH. These two institutions have continued to come under attack by the region's political elites, and cracks in US support are becoming more evident. The US made significant investments through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Partnership for Growth, CARSI, and dozens of other economic, security, and governance programs. There was little evidence of sustained progress even with this assistance.
There's very little evidence that this administration cares about tackling the root causes of violence in the region. When Trump was elected, the goal was to prevent conditions from getting much worse. That's probably still the goal. Conditions in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have not improved. Nicaragua's "paradise" has been shattered. Mexico can't figure out whether it needs to sell out its southern neighbors and its own soul in order to remain in the relative good graces of its northern neighbor. This is a time when the region needs more attention and assistance. It doesn't mean that we had to double down on the support that the previous administration provided. There are other tools available.
However, it's not clear that the Trump administration has any intention of supporting those programs implemented during the previous administration or coming up with plans of its own or in consultation with our neighbors.