Trump puts foreign aid for Central American nations on chopping block

October 23, 2018

President Trump is doubling down on threats to gut foreign aid to Central American countries that are sending illegal immigrants to America.

Trump declared the situation to be a “national emergency” Monday as a “caravan” of thousands of Central American migrants heading towards the U.S. border swelled to 7,000.

“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them,” Trump tweeted.

Trump to cut Central American aid

The warning came after Trump threatened last week to cut aid to the three countries if they did not stop the caravan. However, the group of migrants met little resistance as they marched through Central America last week, reaching the Guatemala-Mexico border over the weekend.

The caravan has not met much more resistance in Mexico. As of Monday, the caravan had grown to 7,000 and was making its way north through the country after a short weekend stand-off with Mexican police at a bridge crossing where members of the caravan tore down a border fence on the Guatemalan side.

The caravan’s progress prompted Trump to slam Mexico on Monday after briefly praising them over the weekend. Trump threatened last week to seal the border with the military if Mexico did not halt the caravan, but he momentarily softened his tone after Mexico briefly attempted to rebuff the migrants.

In the same early morning tweet burst, Trump again threatened to cut aid to the three countries, which received $500 million from the United States in 2017. Speaking at the White House, Trump complained about other countries taking advantage of America’s generosity.

“We have been giving so much money to so many different countries for so long that it’s not fair and it’s not good. And then when we ask them to keep their people in their country, they’re unable to do it,” Trump said.

Critics question cuts

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday evening that the White House was “continuing to look at all the options on the table” to put the cuts into effect. Human rights groups say that cutting aid will worsen the conditions motivating migrants to flee, while one House Democrat said that Trump lacked the authority to cut foreign aid unilaterally.

“Fortunately, Congress — not the president — has the power of the purse, and my colleagues and I will not stand idly by as this administration ignores congressional intent,” New York Rep. Eliot Engel said Monday.

Trump’s threats to cut aid came as he again blamed the Democrats for the caravan, something he has done repeatedly over the last week as the caravan made its way toward the border.

“Every time you see a caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic immigration laws!” Trump wrote in a tweet. “Remember the midterms!”

The Democrats have mostly avoided taking a direct position either for or against the caravan, likely realizing how unpopular it would be to defend it with the midterms looming just two weeks away.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.