Assembly Member Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) is in Central America into next week with a delegation of state lawmakers exploring how to address tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who are arriving at the country's southern border.
A statement from Perea's office stated there has been a "surge" of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S. border from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
California lawmakers arrived in El Salvador on Monday. The group includes Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-East Bay), and Legislative Latino Caucus Assembly Members Perea, caucus vice-chair Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), Jose Medina (D-Riverside) and V. Manuel Peréz (D-Coachella).
The group was headed to Guatemala on Thursday and will also visit Panama to learn about the expansion of the Canal Zone before returning home Wednesday.
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Along with meeting more than 10 government officials in Central America, the trip is aimed at exploring "political, economic and social environments ... and what impacted-states like California can do to meet the humanitarian challenges presented ... " according to a statement from Steinberg's office.
On Thursday, Perea wrote "it's clear the El Salvadoran government understands the crisis.
"They are beginning a public campaign discouraging people from making the trip to the U.S. and are presenting public service announcements highlighting the dangers," Perea said. "The El Salvadoran government understands the key to stopping the migration is to provide better educational opportunities, jobs for their people, and security."
The statement from Perea's office also said El Salvador is arresting and prosecuting human smugglers, who are telling parents that "it's U.S. foreign policy to provide automatic asylum to children."
Steinberg's office said some expenses for transportation, security and interpretive services will be covered by host countries. Remaining expenses, such as plane tickets and hotel rooms, will be paid for by delegation members.
Steinberg spokesman told The Sacramento Bee that legislators can decide to use campaign accounts or personal funds to pay for their portion. No lobbyists are participating in the trip, he said.