Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended Sunday the administration’s move to cut off aid to a trio of Central America countries, saying they need to “do more” to stop the migrant caravans sending thousands to the U.S. border.
The State Department said Saturday it would seek to suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where thousands of citizens have joined migrant caravans, prompting complaints that funding cuts would only make the problem worse.
Mr. Mulvaney said the problem is getting worse even with U.S. aid to Mexico and Central America. The White House pledged in December an additional $10 billion to assist those countries in keeping their citizens from flooding the U.S. southern border.
“If we are going to give these countries hundreds of millions of dollars, we would like them to do more,” said Mr. Mulvaney on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That, Jake, I would respectfully submit to you is not an unreasonable position. We could prevent a lot of what’s happening on the southern border by preventing people from moving into Mexico in the first place.”
Asked by CNN host Jake Tapper about “experts in your own administration” who say the aid is making the countries more stable, Mr. Mulvaney said the evidence shows it’s not working. He also described those making such claims as “career staffers.”
“If it’s working so well, why are the people still coming? Why are these historic numbers — again, 100,000 people will cross the border this month alone,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “That is a crisis. It’s a humanitarian crisis, it’s a security crisis. I think at least now people are starting to realize that we were not exaggerating a couple months ago when we had this nationwide debate on the wall.”
The three countries, known as the Northern Triangle, would lose about $700 million aid under the administration’s plan, according to Reuters.
Mr. Trump has threatened to cut off aid to the countries in the past, tweeting in December, “Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money” and citing reports about the formation of another migrant caravan in Honduras.