Trump threatens aid for Honduras’ foreign over ‘caravan’

‘Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen,’ Trump declares
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to hold up U.S. aid to Honduras and other unspecified countries unless a group of people seeking refuge in the U.S. is stopped.
“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there,” Trump said on Twitter. “Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!”
Trump has previously threatened Mexico over the free trade deal with the U.S. and Canada, but his latest explicit warning to Honduras is a new tact for the American president as he seeks to stymy a large group of more than 1,200 people — most of whom are from Honduras — who will either apply for asylum at the U.S. border or attempt to sneak across it.
The U.S. provided Honduras with $151 million in fiscal year 2017, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, and has spent just less than $18 million in the current fiscal year that ends in September.
The threat made via Twitter is the latest as Trump continues to rail against immigration after being criticized from his conservative base that he has yet to follow through on an immigration crackdown he promised during his run for the White House.
Trump on Monday declared dead an Obama-era program of protections for hundreds of thousands of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. He ended the program last year but called on Congress to come up with a legislative fix in exchange for a raft of hardline immigration policies Trump has been seeking.
But a March deadline came and went for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after successive federal courts ruled that the legal justification the administration had sought to end the program was on flimsy grounds and ordered authorities to continue processing renewals for the program as litigation continues.
Trump said later Tuesday the U.S. will use its military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border until his long-promised wall is built.
“We are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” he told reporters at the White House. “We really haven’t done that before, or certainly not very much before.”
Trump made the comments as Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was present for a meeting with Baltic leaders, looked on. Trump has repeatedly voiced his frustrations at his hitherto inability to fulfill his campaign pledge to build the wall, and a spending bill he begrudgingly signed last month does not include appropriations for the separation barrier.
Trump has reportedly floated the idea of funding the wall by asking the Pentagon if it can transfer some of its funding to pay for the wall’s construction. That idea lacks a legal basis, the ranking Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee said in a letter to Mattis.
“Based on a thorough review of appropriations law, we conclude that the Department of Defense has no legal authority, with or without a reprogramming request, to use appropriated funds for the construction of a border wall,” Senators Jack Reed and Dick Durbin wrote.
“Further, since no funds have been appropriated for that purpose, we conclude that an expenditure of funds by the Department of Defense for the construction of a border wall would very likely violate the Antideficiency Act,” they added.–AA

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