By Nolan Rappaport

President Donald Trump has not been able to stop a surge in illegal border crossings, which, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan, is at the breaking point. In February, more than 76,000 migrants were detained, the highest number in 12 years. Most of them were asylum-seeking migrants from Central America.

The State Department told CNN on Saturday that the United States is cutting off aid to those countries.

Apparently, Trump thinks he can gain some control over the situation by pressuring the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (known as the Northern Triangle) into assisting him with his efforts to secure the border.

I think he is mistaken. The amount of the aid he cut off is much smaller than the amount of money migrants from the Northern Triangle are sending home from jobs in America.

In 2017, migrants from the Northern Triangle who work in the United States sent billions of dollars home to their families. These remittancestotaled more than $5 billion for El Salvador, $4 billion for Honduras, and $8.68 billion for Guatemala. This was 20.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in El Salvador, 17.4 percent in Honduras, and 11.5 percent in Guatemala.

What is the aid supposed to do?

In 2016, the United States gave $131.2 million in aid to Guatemala, $98.3 million to Honduras, and $67.9 million to El Salvador, and Congress has appropriated about $2.1 billion for the program since then.


Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.