Staff Release: What Does Trump’s FY2019 Budget Mean for the Americas?

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On Monday, February 12, the White House released its budget request for the 2019 fiscal year. The document, which proposes drastically cutting the budgets for U.S. aid to Latin America, simultaneously increases defense and domestic infrastructure spending.

Open Americas firmly believes that any budget reflects the political and personal values of its creators. The very same strong sentiments of nativism, militarism, and U.S. exceptionalism expressed in the FY2019 document are embedded in policy decisions that adversely affect people throughout the Americas.

As it pertains to the relationship that the United States shares with Latin America, President Trump has requested roughly $1.6 billion USD to build 65 miles’ worth of a wall along the Texas-Mexico border and approximately $990 million USD to hire 2,750 new ICE and Border Patrol agents. In the same proposal, the President advocates for a $1.9 billion USD reduction in aid to Latin America, diminishing the United States’ ability to achieve its own regional objectives.

Cuts to foreign aid would be particularly devastating to those who benefit from humanitarian assistance following natural disasters, and the accounts for global health funds and food aid would be drastically decreased under the proposed budget. The slashing of such programs demonstrates a lack of understanding of what the United States’ mission abroad has been in recent years.

“America is back to winning again. A great spirit of optimism continues to sweep across our Nation. Americans can once again be truly confident that our brightest days are ahead of us,” writes Trump in the document’s introduction.

Make no mistake, though. Only a select few are winning in this new game. As the rules are repeatedly changed, those who lose are punished, and America as a whole cannot win without advocating for the well-being of all its citizens, aspiring citizens, and neighbors.

Although it is unlikely that the complete budget request be funded, the values it espouses indicate that the future may be stormy. Even so, policymakers, academics, nonprofit groups, and civil society are prepared to weather the storm together.

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