President Trump Cuts Aid to Three Central American Countries

This past weekend saw the next installment of the government’s long-standing threat to implement restrictions on immigrants from Central America. This time, the President has made the unusual choice of trying to prevent the flow of migration by cutting aid to three Central American countries which are popularly referred to as “the Northern Triangle”: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras

This decision is motivated by the idea that these countries are responsible for overwhelming US resources. The President first announced that aid would be cut last December, by tweeting, “Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it.We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries—taking advantage of U.S. for years!”

This drastic change in government spending is a response to fear surrounding the number of organized caravans entering the United States in recent years. The President has expressed a wish to stop what he called “the mother of all caravans”, which carries about 2,500 potential immigrants and is currently making its way through Mexico. It is also an attempt to punish the Mexican government, who had agreed to intercept caravans travelling to the border, but has apparently experienced difficulty with performing up to standard.

This cut in foreign aid includes the $10 billion the United States had pledged to set aside for these three countries. The money would have gone to US nonprofit groups working with Central American governments to prevent potential immigrants from leaving.

Several have pointed to the decision to cut aid as counterproductive, as it worsens the conditions that result in migrants fleeing their home countries in the first place. Popular opinion has held that increasing aid to nations in the Northern Triangle as well as the rest of Central America is the only method for slowing migration and keeping potential immigrants relatively safe. However, disagreement over how to revise immigration laws continues.

“Nobody thinks that the way the U.S. immigration programs are now are acceptable,” says Dr. Klunk, a professor of political science at Pacific. “Everyone says that the immigration system is broken, but there’s no consensus about what about it is broken, We could also have a determined effort to update American immigration law to take into better account the conditions now compared to the last time Congress was able to deal with immigration at all, which was decades ago.”

A majority of the conflict seems to stem from the fact that the immigration process isn’t designed to  handle the number of people making refugee claims. The definition of who qualifies as a refugee also remain narrow, allowing only those who can prove they have been specifically threatened. Starving and employment are not currently considered threatening enough.

When asked about whether he believes the immigration process will ever improve, Dr. Klunk said that he was “a little skeptical at the moment.” He explained that while threatening and disappointing, the President’s proposed actions were likely not intended to have any long-term effects. “The President doesn’t really want immigration to be fixed. The one consistent issue that he has to appeal to his base of voters is how horrible the immigration system is. If he fixed it and couldn’t blame his political opponents for stymying him on fixing it, he would have to give up that issue. We are stuck in a moment where there isn’t as much will in addressing any of our policy problems as there is in being able to blame the folks in the other party for our inability to fix them.”

The President had also threatened to close the southern border entirely, a decision that would be detrimental to businesses that rely on Mexican exports. At the behest of his advisors, he has since retracted this threat and settled for giving Mexico a one-year probation.

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Jo Ann Kirby

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