On February 20, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen met Northern Triangle security ministers in San Salvador, El Salvador to discuss the development of a “regional compact” and action plan aimed at addressing the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis of irregular migration and the formation of migrant caravans.
“Today, we have declared a historic commitment – our mutual intention to crack down on smugglers and traffickers who are profiting from human misery. And we have declared our resolve to bring order where there is chaos…to bring justice to criminals and gangs…and to share information to secure our borders, our people, and our way of life,” said Secretary Nielsen. “Criminals show little regard for the welfare of the vulnerable people they exploit. Enough is enough. We cannot allow children to be used as pawns or women to be sexually assaulted or migrants to become victims of violence on the terrible journey north. We must put an end to this crisis and help vulnerable migrants closer to their point of origin,” she added. “I thank my foreign counterparts for their determination to increase cooperation with the United States on stopping the formation and movement of caravans and the networks that facilitate them.”
By pairing new initiatives with existing efforts, the Joint Statement seeks to address the “root causes” of irregular migration in order to address the challenges at their source. Specifically, Secretary Nielsen and her Northern Triangle counterpart ministers agreed to a roadmap for action that will result in better information sharing, law enforcement cooperation, and public messaging to deal with the ongoing crisis.
The Joint Statement signed today outlines a clear path toward a formal and first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Cooperation—or “regional compact”—between U.S. and Northern Triangle security ministries. Secretary Nielsen called for such a “compact” last summer and hopes it will also include participation from Mexico. The final compact would cover four distinct areas of collaboration:
- Combatting Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling
- Countering Organized Crime and Gangs
- Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing
- Strengthening Border Security
Ministers agreed to complete the final agreement next month and to engage in regular meetings—at the senior and working levels—to help ensure these efforts commence quickly and are effectively executed and sustained.