After threatening to close the US-Mexico border, US President Donald Trump is also planning to sever the sending of humanitarian aid to three Central American countries. They are Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. This is his retaliation to what he called a lack of effort in reducing the flow of migrants to the US border.

The plan comes days after Trump issued a warning that he would close the US-Mexico border if the Mexican government does not do its part in limiting the entry of migrants. In a report by USA Today, the state department announced that it would be terminating FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle.

A department spokesperson revealed that it would be coordinating with Congress as part of the process.

A growing concern

The move to cut financial assistance to the three countries is a culmination of the US government’s long battle over the aid program, which increased substantially during the previous administration. It was designed to address the root causes of migration such as violence, lack of jobs, and poverty. Officials of the Trump administration believe that the program failed to achieve enough results and was already looking for alternatives.

However, the Washington Post reveals that the move by the president to cut off financial assistance surprised many people. Homeland Security Secretary Kirsten Nielsen has just inked what the department calls a “historic” memorandum of cooperation on border security in Central America.

The announcement resulted in chaos in the department as officials tried to determine whether they would cancel existing contracts or simply not renew them.

The situation in the US-Mexico border continues to escalate with over 76,000 migrants taken into custody by the US government. Trump revealed that aid to the three Central American countries amounts to $500 million.

Critics speak out

Jim Nealon, a former US ambassador to Honduras, said that the president does not seem to understand how the Central American financial assistance program works. He said that most of the aid is administered by nonprofit groups and implemented by the US in cooperation with civil society. He also said that Central American governments are already doing their part but they cannot stop their citizens from leaving the country.

Historically, the United States has viewed foreign aid programs to Central American countries as a vital component of creating stability in those countries. According to Reuters, the US has provided $131 million worth of aid to Guatemala, $90 million to Honduras, and $68 million to El Salvador.