President Donald Trump said Honduras’ US aid is “in play” because of a caravan of migrants moving through Mexico who plan to turn themselves in and request asylum once they make it to the US border.
“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
The tweet is a latest in a series from Trump this week in which he has demanded a halt to the caravan.
Earlier this week, he threatened to dismantle the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico doesn’t reduce the flow of immigrants coming across the southern US border. He also said “our country is being stolen” when referencing the caravan and illegal immigration, and he essentially declared that a deal with Democrats on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was dead.
Migrants in the caravan began crossing into Mexico last Sunday. This year’s group – part of an annual event organized by a group called “Pueblo Sin Fronteras,” or People Without Borders – is the largest yet, numbering more than 1,000 people, according to organizers. A large number of participants are from Honduras, where organized crime fuels widespread violence and protesters recently took to the streets after a contested election.
Those who make it to the United States rarely succeed in winning asylum. But their cases can take years to make their way through the backlogged system.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras said in a statement this week that “the high percentage of people fleeing Honduras in the group are the result of multiple political crises in the region provoked in large part by the policies of the US government.”
According to USAID, the US provided more than $127 million to Honduras in 2016, the last year for which complete data is available. $13 million went to secondary violence prevention activity, $12 million to in-country counternarcotics program, and $10 million to justice, human rights, and security strengthening activity.
Trump has previously suggested using foreign aid as leverage in dealing with other countries. At a border security event in Virginia in February, the President made it clear that he believed the US should end foreign aid to nations that allow undocumented immigrants and drugs into the country.
“These countries are not our friends. You know, we think they’re our friends and we send them massive aid,” he said. “And I won’t mention names right now, but I look at these countries, I look at the numbers we send them – we send them massive aid and they’re pouring drugs into our country and they’re laughing at us. So I’m not a believer in that. I want to stop the aid.”
CNN’s Betsy Klein, Catherine E. Shoichet, Joe Sterling, and Abby Phillip contributed to this report.