Trump intends to cut foreign aid to 3 Central American nations

Migrants from Central America held at the border crossing in El Paso

The US State Department said this week it was cutting aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and US President Donald Trump accused their leaders of doing "nothing" to prevent mass migration to the US.

Considering that there's an exchange of approximately 1.7 billion dollars per day in goods between the two countries, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that closing the border would be "an absolute economic debacle that would threaten 5 million American jobs".

Central American migrants moving in a caravan towards the United States, descend from a truck to be taken to a shelter, in the outskirts of Zapotlanejo, Jalisco state, Mexico on November 11, 2018.

"The whole system incentivizes the abuse of the asylum system and the lodging of baseless claims to enter the United States", he said, according to the notes.

On Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that, at the president's direction, the State Department was ending its foreign assistance programs for the three Central American countries for 2017 and 2018.

The State Department said it would "engage Congress in the process", apparently acknowledging that it will need lawmakers' approval to end the funding.

El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have been the major countries from where migrants are arriving into the United States. A few Trump officials decided in recent months that the aid program wasn't working fast enough, and have been looking for alternatives.

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New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, a senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, lamented the "reckless announcement".

Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed what she called a "first of its kind" regional compact agreement with the Northern Triangle countries aimed at preventing irregular migration, combating criminal organizations and ultimately helping with U.S. border security. They were pressuring the Salvadoran government to do more to curb the movement of migrants.

House Foreign Affairs chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), both in El Salvador on Saturday as part of a congressional delegation, said cutting off aid would be "counterproductive" and they will "do everything in our power to push back on the president's misguided approach to Central America". Families and children continue to seek asylum at the U.S. -Mexico border, however, and Trump says the detention centers are full. And Trump recently mocked the idea that Latin American migrants coming to the USA are fleeing violence and in need of asylum. And we're not paying them anymore. "When you close the border also you will stop a lot of the drugs from coming in", Trump told reporters in Florida on Friday.

It was not immediately clear whether they planned to meet with other migrants from Guatemala and Honduras, but the Honduran government denied there was another caravan forming in its country.

Trump said that in one of the cases "the father gave the child no water for a long period of time", although an autopsy released Friday made no mention of dehydration.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, speaking on "Fox News Sunday", insisted Trump's threat to close the border "certainly isn't a bluff".

Mario Garcia, a 45-year-old bricklayer in El Salvador, said he was setting off for the United States regardless of the president's threat to close the frontier.

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