The Trump administration said Monday it is easing previously announced cuts in aid to the Central American nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala but will not allow new funding until those countries do more to reduce migrant flows to the United States.

The U.S. State Department said that after a review of more than $600 million (all figures US) in assistance that President Donald Trump ordered in March to be cut entirely, it would go ahead with about $400 million in projects and grants that had been previously approved. The remaining amount will be held in escrow pending consultations with Congress, it said.

That $400 million, which comes from the 2017 budget, is being spent on health, education and poverty alleviation programs as well as anti-crime efforts that many believe help reduce migrant outflows from the impoverished Northern Triangle region. About $450 million in money from the 2018 budget will not be spent, the State Department said.

“Previously awarded grants and contracts will continue with current funding,” department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said. She added that assistance “to help the Northern Triangle governments take actions that will protect the U.S. border and counter transnational organized crime” will also continue.

Migrants from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, prepare to illegally cross the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Dec. 26, 2018. U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Trump administration’s cuts in aid to Central American countries, arguing the funding helped alleviate some of the problems that cause people to migrate to America. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

U.S. officials said the review looked at roughly 700 projects funded with money from the 2017 fiscal year by the United States in the three countries, and concluded that a significant number were too far advanced to end them.

Trump’s decision in March to cut all direct aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala over the migration issue elicited harsh criticism from Congress. Lawmakers from both parties said the assistance was key to helping improve conditions in the three countries that have contributed to people leaving.

Lawmakers are also expected to object to the latest announcement, which comes as Trump has ratcheted up pressure on Mexico and its southern neighbours to drastically reduce the number of migrants heading to the U.S.

Ortagus told reporters the administration was leaving the door open to future funding but would first have to see progress on migration.

“We will not provide new funds for programs in those countries until we are satisfied that the Northern Triangle governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of migrants coming to the U.S. border,” she said.

“This is consistent with the president’s direction and with the recognition that it is critical that there be sufficient political will in these countries to address the problem at its source.”