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Administration Backtracks on Aid to Central America

Trump Had Cut Funding Over Migration
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 17, 2019 7:15 PM CDT
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus speaks at the State Department on Monday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – The Trump administration said Monday it is easing previously announced cuts in aid to the Central American nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala but will not allow new funding until those countries do more to reduce migrant flows to the US. The State Department said that after a review of more than $615 million in assistance that President Trump ordered cut in March, it would go ahead with $432 million in projects and grants that had been previously approved. The remaining amount will be held in escrow pending consultations with Congress, the AP reports. That $432 million, which comes from the 2017 budget, is for health, education and poverty alleviation programs as well as anti-crime efforts that many believe help reduce migrant outflows from the impoverished Northern Triangle region. About $370 million from the 2018 budget will not be spent and instead will be moved to other projects, the State Department said.

"Previously awarded grants and contracts will continue with current funding," department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. She added that assistance "to help the Northern Triangle governments take actions that will protect the US border and counter transnational organized crime will also continue." US officials said the review looked at roughly 700 funded projects and concluded that many were too advanced to end them. Trump's decision had elicited harsh criticism from Congress, where lawmakers from both parties said the assistance was key to helping improve conditions in the three countries that have contributed to the people leaving. Ortagus said the administration was leaving the door open to future funding but would have to see progress on migration.

(Read more Central America stories.)

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