The United States restored economic aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that had been cut off after the Trump administration complained the three Central American countries had done too little to halt a surge in migration.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced that some “targeted assistance” would resume as they praised governments of the three countries for reaching immigration agreements with the United States.
The three countries from the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America have sent record numbers of migrants toward the United States in recent years, fueling Trump’s rhetoric as part of his “zero tolerance” anti-immigration policy. Pompeo said in a statement that he had cut off the aid earlier this year on Trump’s direction “until the governments of these countries took sufficient action to reduce the overwhelming number of migrants coming to the U.S. border.”
Neither Trump nor Pompeo said how much of the hundreds of millions of dollars of suspended aid would be released. The Washington Post, citing an unnamed person familiar with the decision, reported it amounted to $143 million.
The Trump administration requires asylum-seekers to first seek safe haven in a third country they pass through on the way to the United States. The administration contends the majority of asylum-seekers are really economic migrants who will stay home if their only option is to seek asylum somewhere else.