On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would be ending or “substantially reducing” foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. These three countries combined got more than $400 million from the U.S. in 2016, the most recent year for which complete data are available.
What did Trump say?
Trump tweeted Monday that he had alerted the U.S. Border Patrol and the military “that this is a National Emergency.”
He said that the United States would "begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”
While the president can freeze foreign aid payments for 45 days, ultimately the authority to cancel them rests with Congress. One exception to this rule would be if the president could prove that the nations in question violated conditions that were placed on the aid. However, it is unclear if such a situation exists in this case.
He also claimed that "unknown Middle Easterners" were "mixed in" with the Central American migrants. He has not clarified how he knows that Middle Easterners were part of this migrant caravan.
Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of… https://t.co/aRmOl6HFMV— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1540211860.0
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and c… https://t.co/8jXIdewhIv— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1540213068.0
On Oct. 16, Trump had threatened in a tweet to stop sending money to Honduras “if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras.”
At the time of this tweet, the migrant caravan numbered roughly 1,600. It has now estimated to have swelled to more than 7,000.
The migrants say that they are trying to escape violence and poverty. In 2017, Honduras was ranked the most dangerous travel destination in the world.
How much aid is the U.S. sending to these nations?
Speaking to media at the White House on Monday, Trump said that the U.S. was giving "hundreds of millions of dollars" to these three nations. In 2016, which was a record year for Guatemala and Honduras, the total number for the three nations was $419,068,700.
According to USAID, in 2016 (the most recent year for which complete data are available), the United States gave Honduras $152,015,404. The numbers for 2017 show that the U.S. has given Honduras at least $144 million, and that number will likely rise as final reports are compiled.
Guatemala received $176,928,403 from the U.S. in 2016. In 2017, that number rose to roughly $229 million.
El Salvador got the least amount of foreign aid out of these three nations, with $90,125,230 in 2016 and a tentative total of $91 million in 2017.