Reducing the flow of illegal immigration into the United States is a top priority for President Donald Trump, and he is willing to pursue a variety of measures in order to achieve that goal and better secure the nation by better securing the southern border.
One tactic that Trump is now bringing to bear is that of halting federal foreign aid to several Central American nations from which a significant portion of the illegal aliens arriving at the southern border originate.
It became evident on Monday that Trump is making good on a March promise to divert and suspend the granting of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, due to the failure of those nations to do anything about the flood of migrants fleeing their nations in large caravans to head north toward the U.S.
According to an official from the State Department, $432 million that was already allocated for fiscal year 2017 will remain in place, with another $185 million to be withheld until it is decided that the impacted governments have taken sufficient steps to stem the tide of migration.
An additional $370 million allocated for fiscal year 2018 is to be suspended entirely.
The State Department will work collaboratively with Congress to redirect these sums to alternative foreign policy priority areas.
Funds held indefinitely
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters on Monday that the aforementioned aid funds would be diverted or held in suspension unless and until the three named Central American nations made satisfactory, yet unspecified progress in reducing the number of migrants from their own nations who reached the U.S. border for the purpose of crossing illegally.
“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,” Ortagus said. She added, “Working with Congress, we will reprogram those funds to other priorities as appropriate.”
An unnamed U.S. official said to be familiar with the plan told Reuters that the administration would review the progress of those nations and revisit the suspension decision by April 2020.
Not a bluff after all
Congress and the media surely thought that Trump was merely bluffing when he vowed in March to suspend foreign aid to those nations if they didn’t step up to do their part to address the illegal immigration issue, but Trump has shown on multiple occasions that he will follow through with difficult decisions when necessary.
In all likelihood, Trump is wielding the generous foreign aid our nation grants to those countries as a tool to gain the compliance and cooperation of those Central American nations, in much the same way that he used the threat of tariffs against Mexico to compel that its reluctant agreement to cooperate on reducing illegal immigration flows.
President Trump has shown repeatedly that he is unafraid to think outside the box or use unconventional means to obtain desirable results, and this is but the latest example of such. Odds are, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras will all soon step up their game in reducing the number of migrants fleeing their own borders in order to continue receiving the U.S. foreign aid on which they so heavily rely.