President Donald Trump is officially withholding hundreds of millions in U.S. aid to three Central American countries as punishment for being much of the source of the current illegal immigration crisis.
The White House informed Congress Monday that it will permanently divert $370 million in aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to Reuters. That money was previously approved by Congress for fiscal year 2018, but had not yet been used.
Trump is not stopping there. The administration is also suspending $180 million that was approved in fiscal year 2017 that had not yet been spent.
The president’s decision to withhold aid to Central America’s Northern Triangle countries come as the immigration crisis continues to escalate.
U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 144,000 illegal migrants during May. The monthly total marked the third month in a row during which encounters topped 100,000, and verified apprehensions have grown every month since January. In total, well over half a million illegal migrants have been arrested by Border Patrol this fiscal year, and experts believe that number will hit one million when the year reaches its end.
A vast majority of these migrants are family units or unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The Department of Homeland Security — burdened by regulations intended only for large-scale apprehensions of lone Mexican men — are buckling under the weight of the new migrant demographics.
The Trump administration has made concerted efforts to control the flow of Central American immigrants pouring across Mexico and into the U.S. southern border. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan embarked on a four-day trip to the Northern Triangle in May and was able to secure an agreement with the Guatemalan government aiming to curb illegal immigration from the country.
The White House doubled down on its international efforts with a sweeping deal with Mexico’s government earlier in June. Per that agreement, Mexico will deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala, and is ramping up security of its northern border with the U.S.
News of Trump diverting aid from Central America isn’t surprising. The administration announced its initial intentions in March.
“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,” a State Department said in March. “We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”
The president has long been critical of Central American governments accepting U.S. aid as they allow their citizens to illegally migrate. (RELATED: Mexico Steps Up Enforcement, Arrests Nearly 800 Illegal Immigrants In One Day)
“Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country. They are all talk and no action. Likewise, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have taken our money for years, and do Nothing. The Dems don’t care, such BAD laws. May close the Southern Border!” President Donald Trump tweeted in late March.
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