In a decision that may have the opposite effect of its intended impact, President Trump has ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cut off foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras after he reportedly claimed the countries “set up” migrant caravans, reports CBS News.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that the agency was directed by the president to halt aid to the three Central American countries.
“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,” the statement said. “We will be engaging Congress as part of this process.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Friday that she signed a “historic” regional compact this week with representatives of the Northern Triangle countries. She said the countries agreed to “combat human smuggling and trafficking, crack down on transnational criminals fueling the crisis, and strengthen border security to prevent irregular migration.”
President Trump on Friday claimed that the countries “set up” migrant caravans.
“We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And we’re not paying them anymore. Because they haven’t done a thing for us. They set up these caravans,” he reportedly said.
In a statement, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, said Mr. Trump’s “irresponsible decision” would “undermine American interests and put our national security at risk.”
“If carried out, President Trump’s irresponsible decision to cut off our assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras would undermine American interests and put our national security at risk,” he said.
“U.S. foreign assistance is not charity; it advances our strategic interests and funds initiatives that protect American citizens. This latest reported move shows the Administration still does not understand that the United States cuts foreign aid to Central America at our own peril,” he added.