U.S. aid totaling $450 million, initially set aside for Central American countries, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala was officially cut off on June 17, as President Donald J. Trump had vowed to do.
President Trump had told reporters back in March, “I’ve ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras, and to El Salvador. No money goes there anymore.” He had tweeted a similar warning back in October 2018.
— Department of State (@StateDept) June 17, 2019
The administration will be reallocating $370 million in aid to Central America that was approved in fiscal year 2018, and will suspend an additional $180 million that had been approved by Congress in fiscal year 2017, reported Politico.
All of the money for those years has been held in reserve.
The president’s threats in March were at a time when “the influx of migrants—particularly families” was at a “breaking point,” according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s letter to Congress released the same day.
“DHS facilities are overflowing, agents and officers are stretched too thin, and the magnitude of arriving and detained aliens has increased the risk of life-threatening incidents,” Nielsen wrote, citing increased numbers of migrants arriving each month in large groups. She said the agency faces a “systemwide meltdown.”
Since then little has been done to thwart illegal immigration from Central America. Only recently, with the threat of raised tariffs has the country of Mexico moved to reduce illegal migrants from approaching the U.S. southern border.
No funds will be provided until the administration is satisfied the three countries are reducing the number of migrants reaching the U.S. border, said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
This is consistent with the president’s direction and with the recognition that it is critical that there be sufficient political will in these countries to address the problem at its source,” Ortagus said.