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President Trump: United States to 'begin cutting off' aid to migrant caravan countries


President Trump on Monday said that the U.S. will begin to cut off or reduce aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as citizens of those countries flee for the U.S. as part of a so-called "caravan" of migrants.

In a trio of tweets, the president escalated his rhetoric surrounding the group of migrants, declaring a national emergency as they approach the border and claiming that "unknown Middle Easterners" had joined the group.

Trump, in the tweets, did not offer any evidence for the charge that people from the Middle East were among those crossing the border.

"Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them," Trump wrote in a tweet.

"Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!"

Trump had previously threatened to cut off aid to those countries if they did not act to stop their citizens from fleeing. It's unclear if Trump will take unilateral action to reduce foreign aid, as Congress is not scheduled to return to Washington until after the midterm elections.

Experts have noted that human rights laws restrict actions a government can take to prevent its citizens from leaving its borders.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill about plans to cut foreign aid or to declare a national emergency.

Trump's suggestion that Middle Easterners had joined the group came shortly after a guest on "Fox & Friends" raised the specter of ISIS fighters embedding themselves in the group. The guest, Peter Hegseth, cited quotes attributed to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales but acknowledged the claims were have not been verified.

The president is known to watch the show regularly and often comment about segments on Twitter.

Trump has for days characterized the caravan as a horde of criminals in cahoots with the Democrats while providing no evidence for his claims.

"Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally," Trump tweeted Monday.

The caravan of thousands crossed into Mexico over the weekend, continuing their journey toward the U.S. border in search of asylum.

The group swelled to close to 5,000, the Associated Press reported, after an initial group of 2,000 crossed the Guatemala-Mexico border rather than waiting for asylum processing there.

The president has pointed to the caravan to stoke fear of an influx of illegal immigrants and to blame Democrats for failing to pass stronger immigration laws, despite Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress.

Trump last week warned that he may take military action to stop immigrants from crossing the southern border if Mexico does not take action to stop the "onslaught."

A series of bipartisan immigration bills failed to garner enough votes in the Senate earlier this year, including one bill backed by the White House.

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