Trump administration border chief says US needs ‘to invest in Central America,’ at odds with president’s tweet saying aid to countries will be cut off

Posted on: December 30th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Speaking about the migration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration’s border chief said Sunday that the United States needs to “invest in Central America,” which was at odds with a tweet from the president saying he would cut off aid to those countries.

“I think this is a multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-faceted solution,” Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), told “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz on the crisis at the southern border.

“We … need to invest in Central America,” he said Sunday. “The State Department’s announcement of an unprecedented increase in aid, I think is a tremendous step forward. Our green shoots of progress, both on security and the economic front in Central America, we need to foster that and help improve the opportunities to stay at home.”

On Friday, President Donald Trump said in a tweet that Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador “are doing nothing for the United States” and that the administration “will be cutting off all aid to these [three] countries.

CBP has come under increased scrutiny over the past month after two children died in its custody in December, the first such deaths in more than a decade, according to McAleenan.

McAleenan has served as the CBP commissioner since the beginning of the Trump administration, first in an acting capacity before being confirmed by the Senate in March 2018. McAleenan served as deputy commissioner beginning in Nov. 2014.

“Let me go back to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala … You talked about that aid package.” Raddatz said on “This Week.” “If there wasn’t aid going into there, if that aid was cut off, what would the result be? More problems?”

McAleenan said the three Central American governments need to be “an accountable partner” to the U.S.

“When we work together with well-targeted programs and really targeting them at areas that … we’re seeing migration, like the Western Highlands of Guatemala where there’s a real poverty and hunger crisis — it’s one of the most food-insecure regions in the hemisphere, huge rates of malnutrition,” McAleenan said.

“USAID along with USDA have great programs there to try to foster that but we need to government to step in and join us in that effort. And I think with the Mexican government coming in now also expressing investment and development in Central America as a priority, we’ve got a real opportunity to make a difference.”

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