President Trump has halted all foreign assistance going to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras … the Northern Triangle countries. A majority of illegal migrants originate from the area.
Late on Friday, President Trump said that those countries “set up” migrant caravans.
“We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And we’re not paying them anymore. Because they haven’t done a thing for us. They set up these caravans,” Trump said, according to CNN reports.
A State Department spokesman provided a statement to The Hill on Saturday that the agency was ordered by the President to halt aid to the Northern Triangle nations. “At the Secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the President’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle,” the statement said. “We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”
According to Trump, the allocated funds had totaled $500 million, though the accuracy of that number is in question. In December, an announcement by the State Department indicated $5.8 billion in public and private American investment was being mobilized in the three countries.
The financial assistance to the Northern Triangle has previously been characterized as important in the effort to slow or stop the growing flow of illegals through Mexico to the southern U.S. border.
It seems that the timing of the President’s decision is tied to the reported “mother of all caravans” being organized this weekend in El Salvador, which some organizers say could reach a total of 20,000 migrants.
The move is an abrupt pivot in policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was in Mexico and Honduras earlier in the week meeting with leaders to sign new partnership agreements. Pompeo testified before the House of Representatives on Wednesday, saying the president had instructed him and Nielsen to use U.S. funding to “develop a set of programs that reward effective outcomes, that reward good leadership, that get us to a place where we actually achieve the outcomes.”
Interestingly, Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement criticizing the move. The irony in his comments as compared with the left’s position on the situation at the U.S. border is obviously lost on him.
“If carried out, President Trump’s irresponsible decision to cut off our assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras would undermine American interests and put our national security at risk,” he said.
“U.S. foreign assistance is not charity; it advances our strategic interests and funds initiatives that protect American citizens. This latest reported move shows the Administration still does not understand that the United States cuts foreign aid to Central America at our own peril,” he added.
The President has also said in the last several days that he may very well shut down the southern border, as Mexico has been unable or unwilling to stop the flow of people through its country to the U.S.
“If they don’t stop it we will keep the border closed. And we will keep it stopped for a long time. I’m not playing games,” Trump said.
Trump cuts off foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. I’m happy to hear he is putting America First.
— Omar Navarro (@RealOmarNavarro) March 30, 2019
He did what he had to do. If those countries won’t take control, we penalize them.
— Pete?????????? (@usafss74) March 30, 2019
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