Is the Trump administration backpedaling on its vows to toughen border enforcement, or gearing up to deliver on its promises?
The White House stated on Monday that it is restoring a portion of foreign aid to the Central American Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras after funds were cut in March to compel those nations to reduce their levels of illegal migration to the United States.
According to the Trump State Department, the administration will go ahead in delivering to the Latin American countries $432 million of $615 million in assistance that President Trump ordered cut. The difference will be held in escrow pending consultations with Congress.
The State Department maintained that the $432 million, which comes from the 2017 budget and is designated for grants and projects related to education, health, poverty, and anti-crime efforts, will only be delivered because a significant number of the projects are too far advanced to end.
Meanwhile, department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus explained, $370 from the 2018 budget will be diverted from the Northern Triangle and spent on other projects.
“Previously awarded grants and contracts will continue with current funding,” Ortagus said, but added that funds “to help the Northern Triangle governments take actions that will protect the U.S. border and counter transnational organized crime will also continue.”
Ortagus assured reporters that the United States “will not provide new funds for programs in those countries until we are satisfied that the Northern Triangle governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of migrants coming to the U.S. border.”
“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,” she said.
President Trump had signaled his willingness to cut foreign aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras prior to making the decision official in March.
In October of last year, he tweeted:
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
The hardball approach appeared to bear fruit when applied to Mexico. The president announced earlier this month that he was suspending a planned 25-percent tariff on Mexican goods following the Mexican government’s promise to crack down on illegal migration through its borders to the U.S.
I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2019
....stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2019
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), border apprehensions have topped 676,000 this year, with 144,000 in May alone.
Many migrants no longer evade detection, and instead turn themselves over to border officials as “family units.” Doing so allows them to be released into the United States while they await adjudication of their asylum petition. However, many never return to their hearings and instead disappear into the country.
CBP has revealed that many migrants travel with children who are not actually their own in order to take advantage of the lenient treatment offered to minors and family units. Over the last year, at least 3,100 migrants have been identified as having made fraudulent claims regarding their age or family relationships.
President Trump vowed on Monday to begin removing the millions of foreign nationals in the country illegally.
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
....long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
The president’s declaration may be an indication that he will begin the vigorous immigration agenda that formed the hallmark of his 2016 campaign.
Image: cokada via iStock / Getty Images Plus
Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.