- President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
- The threat came after a caravan of people worked its way through Central America and toward the U.S. border.
- Cutting off foreign aid could potentially harm the U.S. and its economic relations with other countries.
On Monday, Oct. 22, President Donald Trump threatened to cut off or reduce foreign aid to a number of countries due to a migrant caravan that was making its way through Central America and toward the U.S. border.
The countries that were being threatened were Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In 2017, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, Guatemala received $249 million in aid, Honduras received $175 million and El Salvador received $115 million.
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
But what would cutting off foreign aid to these countries mean for the U.S. and Americans?
How Cutting Off Foreign Aid Affects the U.S.
Perhaps the most direct way the average American could be affected by this dramatic reduction in foreign aid is by the disruption of economic relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Rising economic dynamos are heavily dependent on foreign aid. Cutting crucial foreign assistance programs not only undermines the economic prosperity of other countries, but it potentially undermines America’s as well, by harming relations with these burgeoning nations and their economies.
Global economic prosperity means U.S. economic prosperity. Andrew Natsios, the former USAID administrator under President George W. Bush, said in an interview with Foreign Policy, “What you’re basically doing is eviscerating the most important tool of American influence in the developing world, which is our development program. I don’t think they understand what the role of USAID is, what USAID’s mission directors are. USAID’s mission directors are among the most influential foreigners in the country.”
Natsios also said in an interview with NPR that these programs are intended to help foreign economies grow so that people “won’t have a motivation to leave their countries,” since one of the main motivations for leaving is to look for a better job and life. But, by cutting off the aid that would help economic growth, the U.S. is actually more likely to see additional migrant caravans in the future.
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The Trump Administration’s Plans to Reduce Other Foreign Aid
Most Americans are aware that the Trump administration has enacted a series of trade tariffs against several foreign nations, such as China and Canada. The aim of these tariffs is to promote American business per the administration’s “America first” policy.
Although well-intended, this policy also has a detrimental effect on America’s foreign aid to nations in serious need of it. In fact, the Trump administration was aiming to cut foreign aid by up to 37 percent as of March 2017, according to The Brookings Institution. The reason why Trump’s new potential plan matters is because foreign aid programs usually enjoy bipartisan support. They advance essential U.S. foreign goals such as boosting global economic prosperity and keeping national interests safe and secure. Some would argue there is also a moral imperative for the U.S. to help countries less fortunate than itself.
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