President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted that he is “substantially” cutting American aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador over a migrant caravan headed toward the United States.
The impoverished Central American countries “were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S.,” he wrote. “We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”
The U.S. sent a combined total of more than $500 million to the three countries in the 2017 fiscal year, The Associated Press reported.
The caravan, which started out with around 200 migrants, began making its way from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border last week. It had drawn over 5,000 people by the time it reached southern Mexico on Sunday.
Trump tweeted last Tuesday that he had “strongly informed” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez that he would eliminate aid to his country if he didn’t stop the massive caravan bound for the U.S.
Two days later, Trump threatened to order the military to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border. He claimed, without evidence, that Central American countries were allowing “many criminals” to enter the U.S.
Similar caravans have been organized since about 2008. They aim to help people from Latin America flee violence and corruption by seeking asylum in the U.S. or Mexico.
Besi Jaqueline Lopez of Honduras told the AP she joined the caravan in hopes of finding work in the U.S.
“My goal is to find work for a better future for my daughters,” Lopez said.
Trump has repeatedly attempted to sow fear over the caravan in an effort to drum up support for Republicans in the midterm elections, and he has blamed Democrats for supporting “open borders.”
The president tweeted Monday, citing no evidence, that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” were part of the migrant caravan.
“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 out pathetic Immigration Laws!” he tweeted.