After months of threats, President Donald Trump has formally taken steps to end aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the three countries in the "Northern Triangle" in Central America that are the source of the current unprecedented wave of family migration to the United States States.
On Saturday, the State Department confirmed in a statement that it had informed Congress that it had suspended aid from the past years (tax years 2017 and 2018) for the three countries. An estimated $ 700 million in aid will be impacted by the shutdown.
It's still not clear how the blockage will work. According to the Washington Post, the embassy officials did not know if the suspension would apply only to money that was not yet destined for specific contracts with NGOs (in fact, external assistance actually works locally rather than in the US). Central government inspections) or they should actually terminate and implement existing contracts that have already been signed and implemented.
Confusion is self-evident if the Trump administration does things because Donald Trump wants to do it, not because it does. Officials who actually implement the policy think this is a particularly good idea. And that is exactly what is going on here.
Trump and the director of the Bureau of Management and Budget (and White House Chief of Staff) Mick Mulvaney believe that the fact that migrants continue to come to the US without papers is proof that aid is not working and should be cut off. However, other officials and experts ̵
And in the meantime, maintaining US-based asylum applications – the primary goal of President Trump – will depend on the continued cooperation of Central American countries and Mexico. The governments that Trump is now opposed to the help of the northern triangle, however, are a shortcut.
Many Trump officials agree that development aid is important to address the "root causes" of migration. Trump does not do that.
In the big system of the federal budget we do not talk about a ton of money. The $ 700 million reported by the Department of State is now substantially less than the $ 1 billion that the Pentagon has just pulled out of a military personnel account to give it to the DHS for 57 miles on the border wall.
However, what makes aid financing so important Unlike the border wall, many people in both parties agree that migration to the US must be reduced in the long term by addressing the causes of people's exit.
With an unprecedented number of people in Central American families and overwhelmed by a US immigration system that is not targeted at vulnerable populations, a lasting solution seems to be a good solution for both immigrants and the police Migrants as soon as they arrive) and immigrant doves (who see this as a substitute).
The two sides do not necessarily agree on why people are leaving. Trump government officials tend to emphasize economic disputes (which is not a valid case for asylum under US law). Democrats and advocates tend to emphasize oppression and gang violence, which can open the door to an asylum application.
But both lack of opportunities and lack of security are long-term problems that can theoretically help foreign aid solve them. By working with non-governmental organizations, the US can help provide everything from local people to food aid and entrepreneurial opportunities. By working with law enforcement agencies to improve accountability and security, foreign aid can reduce violence.
Both are long-term games. Nobody expects the number of people who immigrate to the US to decline as soon as an agreement is signed. In the short term, evidence suggests that more development aid can actually increase migration, as people use the extra money they leave for the US.
Safety aids, however, could actually work faster by reducing violence. And there is evidence for that.
A study on migrating children found that the Central American communities, which had reduced their homicide rates from 2011 to 2016, also reduced child emigration: a drop of ten murders per year caused about six fewer children to join this community, come to the USA.
This could happen nationwide. While general emigration from the Northern Triangle has been on the increase since last year, emigration from El Salvador has declined sharply – which some administrators attribute to the impact of US security assistance there.
The people who make decisions in the White House are unaware of this. Mulvaney asked CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, "If it works so well, why are people still coming?"
This insistence on immediate results, coupled with an apparent lack of awareness of differences between countries and between types of aid, is characteristic of Trump's approach.
Trump brings together governments and their people – and wants to punish both
Ironically, some Congressional Democrats have shared Trump's skepticism about continued assistance to the northern Triangle countries – but for completely different reasons.
The Democrats are particularly concerned about the government of Guatemala, which last year forced a United Nations anti-corruption body to leave the country (allegedly US-supplied jeeps) and for its treatment of activists was subjected.
"I support the suspension of support, especially security, for individual governments in the Northern Triangle," MEP Norma Torres (D-CA) said at the weekend. "Congress has imposed very strong conditions on these governments regarding our external assistance, and we should hold them to account if these conditions are not met."
That's not what Trump does.
According to the congress, the US State Department has to confirm that the governments of the Northern Triangle work together in certain areas – including the protection of human rights and the curbing of unauthorized migration – to provide much of the development aid granted for a particular year , However, the US Department of State has already granted partial certification for 2018 and full certification for 2017 – and is now trying to revoke it.
If anything, the administration closes the human rights data of the Northern Triangle governments to make it easier for them to send their emigrants back.
Over the last two years, the State Department's annual human rights report has omitted much of its records in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, casting doubt on its human rights record. For example, they leave a sentence in the books because of a law, while the subsequent punishment for how that law was practically never enforced was abolished. It is important that immigration judges who decide on asylum procedures often use US State Department reports as one of the "objective" sources of what is really going on in an applicant's country of origin.
It is clear that the state does not go to the state departmental procedure, but about Donald Trump.
Prior to the weekend announcement, Ted Hesson of Politico reported that assistance for 2018 had "slowed down" due to interference from Mulvaney's management and budget office and administrative officials were worried Trump would throw a tantrum when he knew that Help was issued. After all, Trump threatened with the shutdown of tools since last spring. And at the weekend, they finally materialized.
Trump brings together governments and their people. He believes that governments "send" migrants to other countries and consciously choose evil people who want to send them; He wants to reduce the migration from "shitty countries" and raise them from countries where people are already better off (and know).
One of his government's first steps was to ban the resettlement of refugees from certain Muslim countries – even though the governments of these countries are in many cases exactly what the refugees are trying to escape.
So his approach in the countries of the Northern Triangle – and in Mexico – is to blame governments for not stopping people's migration. It's all stick and not carrot: When people are successfully barred from entering the US, he occasionally praises the governments of the region, but when people move north again, he complains endlessly about why they are not hindered to leave their countries.
Of course, it is not possible for a government to physically prevent any emigration – especially a government that can not always guarantee the basic security of its people. The Trump administration has not identified specific things that the northern triangular countries should or should not do. In the short term, DHS officials appear to be caught between imitating Trump's strict line towards Central America and Mexico and the need for cooperation to combat migration.
Trump risks not only the wrath of Central America, but also Mexico's exact governments must discourage people from entering the US
On Wednesday, Minister of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, signed a regional pact with Guatemalan officials, Honduras and El Salvador to Conduct Joint Police Missions and Fight Unauthorized Migration At the beginning of their remarks, she told her colleagues, "We share a common cause with you."
A few days later, in an article on Fox News' website, she changed the meeting differently: "I recently traveled to Central America to send a clear message to the governments of the Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras: The time is up Expired, and we need courageous measures to stop the flood of migrants at our borders. "
The reality is that diplomacy requires more than just bullying or insisting that the US immediately get everything it wants. In the short term, if the US wants to crack down on smuggling routes, it needs the kind of cooperation with the Central American governments that can offer joint police interventions, and it's not clear how the blockage will affect those efforts.
And then there's the question Mexico.
The suspension of aid does not directly affect Mexico, but it is the country whose collaboration the Trump government has needed to prevent people from gaining a foothold in the United States – and seeking asylum.
Under the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico has trumped a revolutionary. Humanitarian approach to regional migration – with López Obrador he called for a "new Marshall Plan" for investment in the Northern Triangle.
Allegedly, a week ago, the US claimed to agree with this approach: In a joint announcement by the US and Mexico in December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed to the money America had already given as proof of investment in the Northern Triangle Billions of dollars.
On the ground, Mexico's attitude was very different: he worked extensively with the US to counter migration to the north. Mexican officials facilitate the "measurement" that forces asylum seekers to wait in port for months. They accept some Central American migrants who are in Mexico to await their US trials – and the US insists that they accept many more.
In January, a large caravan prepared to move to a US port in Texas. a group of Mexican police officers surrounded them and detained them in an empty factory, only a few of them had one day applied for asylum; As riots broke out in the factory, asylum seekers were dispersed in buses to more distant cities.
And last week they announced that they would bring the military to the isthmus between Mexico and Mexico. Guatemala was supposed to "restrict" migrants.
It is hard enough for Mexico to reconcile this with its humanitarian rhetoric. But the idea that the United States and the United States were equally committed to fighting the "root causes" of migration and developing the region so that the inhabitants of the Northern Triangle no longer felt the need to go was an important fig leaf.
Now the United States At the same time, he demonstrates that Mexico does not agree with Mexico's wider approach to the region, and stresses that Mexico acts immediately on both the southern and northern borders to focus its migration system on its goals of the USA.
It is risky businesses, with no incentives to comply – or, apparently, an interest in allowing Mexico or the Central American countries to ban migrants (as the US did in 2014 and 2015 under President Obama).
Trump says that there is no reason to give money to governments that (in his estimation) are not doing enough to support US border security. He can see what happens to border security when he receives his request.