US halting aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras

The United States will no longer provide foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill in a statement Saturday that the agency was directed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE to halt aid to the so-called Northern Triangle countries.

"At the Secretary’s instruction, we are carrying out the President’s direction and ending FY 2017 and FY 2018 foreign assistance programs for the Northern Triangle," the statement said. "We will be engaging Congress as part of this process."

The Hill has contacted the White House for comment. 

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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE said in a statement Friday that she signed a "historic" regional compact this week with representatives of the Northern Triangle countries. She said the countries agreed to "combat human smuggling and trafficking, crack down on transnational criminals fueling the crisis, and strengthen border security to prevent irregular migration."

President Trump on Friday said that the countries "set up" migrant caravans, according to CNN

"We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And we're not paying them anymore. Because they haven't done a thing for us. They set up these caravans," he reportedly said. 

Trump previously threatened to cut off aid to the countries in December over alleged caravans, accusing them of "doing nothing for the United States but taking our money."

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement denouncing the move. 

"If carried out, President Trump’s irresponsible decision to cut off our assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras would undermine American interests and put our national security at risk," he said.

"U.S. foreign assistance is not charity; it advances our strategic interests and funds initiatives that protect American citizens. This latest reported move shows the Administration still does not understand that the United States cuts foreign aid to Central America at our own peril," he added.