President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off U.S. foreign aid to Honduras if that country does not stop a caravan of migrants moving northward toward the U.S. border. The U.S. sends more than $100 million in foreign aid to Honduras each year.
What did Trump say?
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that if the migrants were not stopped before they reached the U.S. border, “no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!”
Some 1,600 Honduran migrants entered Guatemala on Monday in their trek northward to the U.S. border with Mexico. The migrants say that they are trying to escape violence and poverty. In 2017, Honduras was ranked the most dangerous travel destination in the world.
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Vice President Mike Pence has asked the governments of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala to stop the migration before it reaches the U.S.
“Tell your people: don’t put your families at risk by taking the dangerous journey north to attempt to enter the United States illegally,” Pence said, speaking to these governments from an event in D.C.
How much aid is the U.S. sending to Honduras?
According to USAID, in 2016 (the most recent year for which complete data is available), the United States gave Honduras $152,015,404. The numbers for 2017 show that the U.S. has given Honduras at least $144 million, and that number will likely rise as final reports are compiled.
Most of this funding came from USAID, although $18.6 million in 2016 came from the Department of Defense, and lesser amounts came from an array of other agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the State Department, and the Department of the Treasury. The U.S. has sent at least $100 million to Honduras each year since 2013.
Does Trump have the authority to stop foreign aid?
It depends on the situation. In some cases, the president can end foreign aid without congressional approval if he can make the argument that the recipient country has violated conditions that were placed on the aid. Trump used this method in September 2017 to stop $255 million in military aid from being sent to Pakistan.
However, when it comes to suspending all foreign aid to a nation when that aid was not given under conditions, the president’s options are more limited. He can freeze specific foreign aid payments for 45 days, but ultimately aid that has already been approved by Congress will need congressional approval to be ended.
The potential exception to this would be if it was near enough to the end of the fiscal year that the funds could potentially expire before the 45-day freeze ended. Since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, that would not come into play in this situation.
This isn’t the first time that Trump has made this threat
On April 3, Trump tweeted that foreign aid to Honduras was “in play” if the “big Caravan of People from Honduras” was not “stopped before it gets” to the U.S. border.