The Trump administration has announced plans to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The news came after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the thousands of Central American migrants who have come to the U.S. in search of asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico.
U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said funds for programs in those countries would not be provided until the administration is satisfied these governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of migrants coming to the U.S.
“Working with Congress, we will reprogram those funds to other priorities as appropriate. 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.
As Secretary Pompeo has said, these nations have the responsibility to take care of the immigration problems in their home country,” Ortagus said.
According to Reuters, congressional aides said the administration told them it would reallocate $370 million in aid to Central America lawmakers that had approved for fiscal 2018, and suspend an additional $180 million Congress had approved for fiscal 2017.
Lawmakers had been urging the administration to reverse course, fearing the end of U.S. assistance will only make worse the rampant poverty, deep-rooted political instability and widespread insecurity in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, collectively known as the “Northern Triangle.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, who represents the border city of El Paso, Texas, said on Twitter that the Trump administration’s strategy is destabilizing.
“Instead of working with leaders in Central America to stabilize the situation there, the administration is eliminating aid intended to create better conditions that would help keep families home,” she wrote.