By Toluse Olorunnipa, Nick Wadhams, and Eric Martin
From the article:
President Donald Trump said the U.S. will cut off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as thousands of migrants continued to march from Central America toward the U.S. border.
Trump has sought to escalate undocumented immigration as an issue ahead of pivotal midterm congressional elections on Nov. 6, and he has blamed the so-called “caravan” of Central American migrants on Democrats. “Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws!” he said earlier on Twitter.
Cutting aid isn’t as simple as turning off a tap. Much of the money for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras was appropriated by Congress in the form of anti-corruption and good-governance programs. Those initiatives have broad support from lawmakers, who have already promised to put up a fight should Trump try to make good on his threat. A 1974 law prohibits the president from withholding money appropriated by Congress.
U.S. aid to the countries amounts to about 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent of their gross domestic product and was already expected to fall in 2019, according to Eurasia Group Latin America analyst Risa Grais-Targow. Cutting the aid wouldn’t have a huge impact on their economies, she said, but would represent “additional headwinds” on top of Trump’s broad immigration policies and his attempt to cancel a special immigration status for tens of thousands of Hondurans and El Salvadorans already in the U.S.
“Cutting assistance doesn’t give leverage in terms of changing policies, and actually undermines the existing U.S. efforts to tamp down what we know to be the drivers of migration,” said Jeremy Konyndyk of the Center for Global Development. “So it’s wrong-headed on both fronts.”
It’s also unclear whether Trump will make good on his Twitter threat.
“We’ve seen this movie before,” Konyndyk said. “We’ve seen the White House put out something really inflammatory that doesn’t translate into policy outcome.”
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