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US Congressman Eliot Engle urges Caribbean nationals

One of the authors of the U.S./Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act, Congressman Eliot Engle wants the Caribbean and the US congress to work together to ensure that the Act is fully implemented and has the required resources dedicated to it so it can be successful.

Measure submitted to Congress

Addressing the Family Unification Resettlement Initiative (FURI) award ceremony in New York on Saturday, October 28, at Eastwood Manor Banquet Hall in Bronx, New York, Congressman Eliot Engle reported that on June 19th, the State Department submitted to Congress the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in the Caribbean, which President Obama signed into law in December 206, before leaving office.

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However, he said there needs to be a concerted effort to ensure that the Act succeeds as “President Trump and Secretary Tillerson have proposed a draconian and short-sighted 33 percent cut to our international affairs budget.

Trump’s budget has serious cuts in funds for Caribbean

“Let me break that down for the Caribbean just to show how bad this could be: In the Trump budget, overall assistance for the Caribbean would decline by 28 percent; assistance to Jamaica would be cut by 90 percent; aid to Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, would be reduced by 17 percent; assistance to the Dominican Republic would drop by half; aid to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean would be cut by 41 percent and Caribbean Basin Security Initiative funding would drop by 37 percent to $36.2 million,” Engle said.

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Funding for CBSI remain intact

Congressman Eliot Engle, who received the FURI Pinnacle Award, said the Appropriations Committee rejected the 37 percent cut to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative or CBSI, and “I am pleased that CBSI will be funded in 2018 at the same level it was funded at in 2017: $57.7 million,” the congressman said.

Need to redouble efforts

“This is an important first step, but we will need to see many more improvements to the President’s 2018 international affairs budget in order to truly enhance our engagement with the Caribbean. And as we do this, we also need to redouble efforts to ensure that this funding reaches vulnerable populations, including deportees,” Engle noted.

Lobby US House and Senate

He urged members of the Caribbean-American diaspora–to lobby his colleagues in the US House and Senate and make the case for funding the Caribbean. “Now is the time for action, and none of us can be complacent,” he declared.

Representative Engle pointed out that an estimated three and a half million people from the Caribbean live in the United States. This accounts for nine percent of the total foreign-born population in the United States.

“And, six million people self-identify as members of the Caribbean diaspora in the United States. They represent an extraordinarily rich and vibrant part of the fabric of America that do so much to make our country stronger and strengthen our ties to countries across the Caribbean,” Engle concluded.

The Family Unification Resettlement Initiative, FURI, assist deported migrants upon their return to Jamaica and help reintegrate these individuals back into society… to give them the tools they need to succeed.

Click link to read more on the US/Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act: Caribbean Tourism Organization calls for US/Caribbean alliance

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