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  • Migrants from Honduras, part of a new caravan from Central America trying to reach the United States, walk along a road, in Esquipulas, Guatemala.

    Migrants from Honduras, part of a new caravan from Central America trying to reach the United States, walk along a road, in Esquipulas, Guatemala. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 June 2019

Congressional aides affirmed the administration told them US$370 million in aid to Central America, that lawmakers had approved for fiscal 2018, would be relocated, and that an additional US$180 million for fiscal 2017 would be suspended.

United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday slashed around US$550 million in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras due to thousands of their citizens seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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“As feared, a presidential tantrum will limit our nation’s ability to actually help address the challenges forcing people to flee to the U.S.,” Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said on Twitter.

Congressional aides affirmed the administration told them US$370 million in aid to Central America, that lawmakers had approved for fiscal 2018, would be relocated, and that an additional US$180 million for fiscal 2017 would be suspended. On March, Trump warned his administration would cut these funds. 

“We’re not paying them anymore because they haven’t done a thing for us,” the U.S. head of state said in regards to his “dislike” of the three nation’s migration policies. A U.S. official said the administration would review the funding by April 2020. 

The president warned on Monday that "millions" of undocumented migrants would be "removed" by ICE next week.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently detaining more than 52,500 migrants a day, most of them are asylum seekers protected by international law, escaping political persecution, gang and drug-related violence. 

Legislators who oppose the plan said it was “cruel” to cut off aid to countries grappling with hunger and crime and that the move would be counterproductive as it would more likely increase the number of migrants than decrease it.

Meanwhile, Mexico also announced that rather than deploy its 6,000 new National Guard across the country by June 30, it will do so by June 18 at 13 specific points along the border, a move critics say continues the militarization techniques introduced by the previous two administrations.

This move is part of Trump’s imposed policies on Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government to impose more strict migration policies in Mexico in a bid to hinder the thousands of asylum seekers crossing Central America to reach the U.S. border. 

And as Trump has made reducing migration one of his signature policy pledges, Guatemalan Defense Minister, Luis Miguel Ralda, confirmed on June 3 that U.S. troops are already in the country, specifically in the Guatemala-Mexico border department of Huehuetenango to prevent migrants from entering Mexico in the first place.

On Monday, Trump tweeted that "Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement." Under this sort of agreement, migrants would be required to seek asylum in Guatemala if they want to reach the U.S., Canada struck a pact of those characteristics back in 2002.

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