SAN FRANCISO (KCBS) — A delegation of California state lawmakers are in Central America this week to meet with leaders from El Salvador and Guatemala.

While the trip had been planned for some time, it comes as the border crisis continues to intensify with tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America arriving at the southern U.S. border.

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Some say the reason these children are headed north is because of gangs and associated violence, while others say it’s due to rumors that there is “welcome mat” laid out for those that reach the border.

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told KCBS in a phone interview on Thursday from El Salvador that he thinks it is a combination of both security and economic opportunity that are attracting those from poor countries in Central America.

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El Salvador’s government, he said, is on the right track but still has a long way to go. He said that financial investment to the country would be in the best interests of California, and the U.S.

“In the long run it will be a lot less costly for the country really—this is a State Department and foreign policy issue—to invest in a little bit in economic development and education in El Salvador. That will be a lot less expensive than the cost of addressing a humanitarian crisis,” he said.

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