WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new threat to cut off aid to three Central American countries on Wednesday in response to what he said was a new wave of immigrants headed toward the United States from those countries.
Trump, struggling to get a request through the U.S. Congress for money to build a southern border wall, expressed frustration about governments in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador not helping the United States on the migrant problem.
“Honduras is doing nothing for us. Guatemala is doing nothing for us. El Salvador is doing nothing for us. And we pay them hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but we’re going to be stopping pretty soon. In fact, we’re looking at it right now,” he said.
The Trump administration’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2019 included $45.7 million for El Salvador, $69.4 million for Guatemala and $65.8 million for Honduras, according to the Congressional Research Service. The amounts all represented a double-digit reduction from the previous year’s funding.
Trump said he believed the three countries could “very easily” stop immigrant caravans from forming.
“I actually think they encourage the caravans because they want to get rid of the people from the country, and certain people,” Trump told reporters during a meeting on immigration with members of his administration and high-profile Republicans.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish)