The United States on Monday cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, after President Donald Trump had earlier targeted the three countries over the migrants influx problem, Reuters reports.
Congressional aides were quoted as saying that the administration had informed them that it would reallocate US$370 million in aid to Central America that lawmakers had approved for fiscal 2018, and suspend an additional US$180 million Congress had approved for fiscal 2017.
All of the money for those years has not yet been spent.
The administration said in March it would cut aid to the three countries after Trump expressed unhappiness with the their immigration policies.
No funds will be provided until the administration is satisfied the countries are reducing the number of migrants reaching the US border, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters.
“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,” she said.
Without elaborating, she added: “Working with Congress, we will reprogram those funds to other priorities as appropriate.”
A US official told Reuters that the administration will review the funding by April 2020.
Trump has made reducing illegal immigration one of his signature policy pledges, both during his presidential campaign and two-and-a-hal years in the White House.
The aid cit plan is likely to encounter stiff opposition in Congress.
Lawmakers who opposed the plan say it is cruel to cut off aid to countries grappling with hunger and crime and that the move would be counterproductive because it would more likely increase the number of migrants than decrease it.
“As feared, a presidential tantrum will limit our nation’s ability to actually help address the challenges forcing people to flee to the US,” Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said on Twitter.
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