Democratic lawmakers and other supporters of foreign aid to Central America fumed over the weekend following President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he will cut hundreds of millions in assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, called the move “short-sighted and flawed,” and cautioned that it could inflame what he called a humanitarian crisis at the border. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said it was “foreign policy by tweet” and demonstrated Trump’s ignorance of the funds’ purpose.
Several House Democrats were visiting El Salvador when they heard the news. The group, which included Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees, respectively, ripped Trump’s approach in a joint written statement as “entirely counterproductive.”
The Trump administration has intensified its argument in recent weeks that a high level of illegal immigration has created a crisis that demands additional resources and changes to existing laws. Trump warned Friday that he would close all legal trade and travel along the southwest border in the coming week unless Mexico steps up enforcement against migrants.
But critics point out that the aid the president will cut is aimed squarely at reducing illegal immigration and illicit trafficking by addressing the dire conditions in the three Northern Triangle region that are driving the northern migration.