Originally Published in Newsweek
Daniel Villareal - March 25, 2021
Former President Donald Trump has said that during his presidency he cut federal funding to three Central American countries in order to "punish" them because of the immigrants that came from their countries to seeking entry into the United States.
During a Thursday night interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Ingraham played a clip of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the clip, Pelosi said that Trump had withdrawn funding from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — three countries that make up a region called the Northern Triangle — in order to punish them.
Ingraham asked, "Mr. President, did you withdraw money from Central America to punish them?"
"Absolutely. That's right," Trump replied.
"We were paying them $500 million a year," Trump told Ingraham. "Nobody knew what they were doing with the money, and they were sending criminals to our country."
"They abused us in so many different ways," Trump continued. He then accused the countries' leaders of refusing to accept murderers and members of the violent MS13 gang that had been caught at the southern U.S. border by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.
"They wouldn't take them. I stopped paying the $500 million that we were wasting when giving it to them," Trump continued.
He then claimed that the day after his administration cut off its funding, the countries' leaders called U.S. officials stating, "We'd love to have MS13 come back into our country. Please send them immediately, and we will not be sending any more bad people."
Ingraham laughed in response.
At the end of March 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it was cutting nearly $450 million in direct funding to the countries because of their failure to stop emigration from their borders.
The region is the primary source of migrants to the United States. The immigrants largely flee their region to escape high murder rates, gang violence, low employment as well as a lack of access to food, necessities and social services. Recent droughts and hurricanes have worsened conditions in the region.
The direct funding cut off by Trump had sought to stem migration from the region by helping the countries politically and economically stabilize in an effort to reduce migration caused by violence and corruption. However, because the countries had failed to reduce migration, Trump cut off the funds as a punishment.