Published: Tue, April 02, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump Orders Cut to Financial Aid to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala

Trump Orders Cut to Financial Aid to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala

Officials in Tegucigalpa said they would continue working with El Salvador and Guatemala on the Northern Triangle initiatives while "internal discrepancies over regional cooperation are resolved".

Mr Trump said it follows the failure of the three countries to stop immigrant caravans heading to the US.

US President Donald Trump has ordered the State Department to cut all direct financial assistance to the so-called Northern Triangle countries, namely El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, ABC News reported on Saturday citing a State Department spokesperson.

Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, defended the president's move over the weekend, dismissing the views of "career staffers" at the State Department while arguing that continued flowed of immigrants Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador proves that the current USA strategy isn't working. A surge of asylum seekers from the three countries, known collectively as the Northern Triangle, has sought to enter the United States in recent days.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said Trump's order is "immoral and more likely to deteriorate conditions that push people into the kind of poverty and despair that exacerbates migration".

Mexico, in fact, was hoping to put together an aid package with the United States before Trump announced these severe measures.

Trump said on Friday that he was willing to close the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) southern border this week, if Mexico did not stop the flow of people.

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"It will only result in more children and families being forced to make the risky journey north to the U.S. -Mexico border", said the five Democratic lawmakers in a statement. The funding does not go to the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala or Nicaragua. "We need Mexico's cooperation to work with us and cutting off the border just tells Mexico we're doing it alone". No more money is going there anymore.

"We were giving them US$500 million".

This is a time when these countries could use additional investments and partnerships from the United States to promote economic opportunities and security for their citizens, nothing less, "said the United States Global Leadership Coalition, composed of retired diplomats, military leaders and members of Congress".

Trump has long threatened to cut off aid to the Northern Triangle in retaliation for these countries not stopping the caravans passing through their borders. Between last year and this year, about $1.3 billion was allocated to the region, with the vast majority of it going to those three countries, according to a study from the Congressional Research Service.

"It would be so easy to fix our weak and very stupid Democrat inspired immigration laws", Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday.

Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that 750 border inspectors would be reassigned to deal with the growing number of migrant families, and the DHS official said Friday that the department was seeking volunteers from other agencies to help.

Sen. Bob Menendez-a top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations-urged both parties to reject the move.

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