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article imageTrump intends to cut foreign aid to 3 Central American nations

By Karen Graham     Mar 31, 2019 in Politics
Washington - Taking drastic action over illegal immigration, President Donald Trump moved Saturday to cut direct aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, whose citizens are fleeing north and overwhelming U.S. resources at the southern border.
The move is Trump's harshest yet as he escalates a confrontation with Mexico and the three countries that make up the "Northern Triangle" of Central America over the flood of immigrants pouring into the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
"We are carrying out the president's direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle (of Central America)," a State Department spokesman said in a statement on Saturday. This would effect almost $500 million in 2018 funds and millions more left over from the previous fiscal year.
The spokesperson said "we will be engaging Congress as part of this process," which could mean it needs Congressional approval to end funding, according to NBC News.
An alternative solution
Trump is attacking a U.S. government aid program which grew substantially under the Obama administration with the aim to address the root causes of migration - violence, a lack of jobs and poverty. A few Trump officials decided in recent months that the aid program wasn't working fast enough, and have been looking for alternatives. Stopping all aid was one solution.
The decision did take many people on Capitol Hill by surprise, including the Department of Homeland Security. The president's new move comes just one day after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed what the department called a “historic” memorandum of cooperation on border security in Central America.
US authorities say they are facing an "unprecedented" influx of illegal migrants
US authorities say they are facing an "unprecedented" influx of illegal migrants
Paul Ratje, AFP/File
The whole situation has thrown the State Department and U.S. embassies into a state of chaos, according to the Washington Post. A former U.S. official says officials can't figure out if they should cancel existing contracts or simply not renew them. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities.
The number of apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol officials has soared in recent months. More than 76,000 migrants were taken into U.S. custody in February, according to officials. On Friday night, while in Florida, Trump blamed the influx of migrants on governments in Central America.
“I’ve ended payments to Guatemala, to Honduras and El Salvador. No more money is going there anymore,” Trump told reporters. “We were giving them $500 million. We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us.”
The legality of cutting the aid
Even though we have a system of government that relies on "checks and balances," Trump has shown a propensity to go off on his own and totally bypass the Congress - especially over appropriations.
Many lawmakers consider the cuts outside the law and unconstitutional and that they would need Congressional approval. A senior Democratic aide said, "The Administration can propose rescissions, but implementation requires Congressional approval," reports NBC News.
What Trump is doing has been tried before. In the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, Congress in that law reasserted its budget authority after President Richard Nixon's impoundment of congressionally appropriated funds, according to the House of Representatives website.
More about Illegal immigration, Central America cave, stop aid, mwxico, Politics
 
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