The first ladies of Guatemala and Honduras received a tour of the Rio Grande Valley Southwest border Sector on Thursday, June 20th, accompanied by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan and Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection John P. Sanders.
Patricia Marroquín de Morales, First Lady of Guatemala, and Ana Garcia de Hernandez, First Lady of Honduras, received a briefing on the state of the border before participating in an operational tour of the border and of CBP processing facilities for single adults, families and unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley area.
“It is important to be able to work hand in hand with the United States government to identify the irregular migration flow, analyze the incentives to migrate, and create conditions of support and wellbeing for people in Northern Triangle countries, so that families build their futures in their own nations,” Ana Garcia de Hernandez, First Lady of Honduras said.
“This week, the Guatemalan and Honduran delegations were able to see the border security and humanitarian crisis first hand,” said Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan. “This important visit allowed us to share our efforts to address the current situation and demonstrate how our continued collaboration will improve the lives and security of our citizens and theirs.”
The dignitaries were joined by Sandra Jovel, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Enrique Antonio Degenhart Asturias, Minister of Government of Guatemala, and María D. Agüero, Foreign Secretary of Honduras, as well as other senior foreign officials.
“This is a call to all Guatemalans: please – you must know that there is no guarantee that you will you get into the United States, regardless of if you bring a child or not,” Sandra Jovel, Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a video posted on Twitter following the tour. “The processes to enter the U.S. are very long, and you will risk your and your children’s lives.”
The briefing included an overview of how transnational criminal and human smuggling organizations pair adult aliens with children they are not related to with the intent of posing as family units to help secure release into the U.S. They learned that, in most cases, the adults use fraudulent documents to support their claim. The briefing also focused on the introduction of the Rapid DNA technology pilot which, in addition to careful document inspection, has assisted DHS in identifying many of the fraudulent family schemes.
The majority of irregular migrants crossing the U.S. border are traveling from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Of all Southwest border apprehensions in May, 78 percent came from the Northern Triangle. DHS will continue to pursue comprehensive partnership and collaboration with these countries to work toward ending the crisis at the border.