U.S. President Donald Trump claimed Monday that Guatemala was "getting ready to sign" an agreement that would force migrants who flee persecution in El Salvador and Honduras to request asylum in Guatemala instead of Mexico or the United States.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said funds for programs in those countries would not be provided until the administration is satisfied these governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of migrants coming to the United States.
The Reuters news agency quoted congressional aides as saying the administration told them it would reallocate $370 million in aid to Central America that lawmakers had approved for fiscal 2018, and suspend an additional $180 million Congress had approved for fiscal 2017.
Lawmakers had been urging the administration not to cut the aid, fearing the end of U.S. assistance will only make worse the rampant poverty, deep-rooted political instability and widespread insecurity in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, collectively known as the "Northern Triangle."
Rep. Veronica Escobar who represents the border city of El Paso, Texas, said on Twitter that the Trump administration's strategy is destabilizing.