WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf participated in the 11th Regional Security Conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala. This was Wolf’s first international trip as Acting Secretary.
The ministerial brought together officials from the U.S., Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to discuss ongoing accomplishments in confronting irregular migration and transnational criminal organizations in the region. As partners, the officials discussed how to work together to prevent migrants from placing their lives in the hands of human smugglers to travel to the United States.
The Acting Secretary also signed a Joint Security Program (JSP) arrangement with Salvadoran Minister of Justice and Public Security Rogelio Rivas. The signing of the JSP will solidify the U.S. and El Salvador’s law enforcement partnership to identify air passengers linked to terrorism, narcotics, weapons, and currency smuggling. The JSP marks the 12th agreement that DHS has made since June with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to further expand asylum capabilities and improve safety, security, and prosperity in the region. During the ministerial, the officials also discussed the ongoing implementation of these critical agreements.
The Acting Secretary and Ministers further discussed the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at the Southwest border due to historic levels of irregular migration and human smuggling. Acting Secretary Wolf emphasized to his partners that unprecedented irregular migratory flows from the region are unsustainable and that no country can afford the incalculable loss of growth that comes with the departure of such a significant portion of its population.
During his visit, the Acting Secretary also toured the Guatemalan Migrant Reception Center, located at La Aurora International Airport, and observed the well established and orderly process for returning migrants. Additionally, he received an operational briefing of the Department’s implementation of the Guatemala Arrangement on Irregular Migration. He saw first-hand that by bringing expertise, training, and experience to help the Government of Guatemala secure its borders, DHS is benefiting the region and the U.S. – much to the detriment of transnational criminal organizations.
Together, DHS and its partners are developing a safer and more prosperous region so that Central Americans can feel confident in creating futures in their home countries, rather than putting their lives in the hands of smugglers and criminal organizations to make the dangerous journey across the U.S. border.
The recent initiatives undertaken have been effective, as November marked the sixth consecutive month of declines in enforcement actions at the U.S. Southwest border, with 41,000 aliens encountered.
The United States will continue to do all we can to support efforts to make this region secure and abundant with economic opportunities for its citizens.