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Acting Secretary Wolf's Prepared Remarks to the Regional Security Conference

Release Date: 
December 12, 2019

- As Prepared -

Thank you for the opportunity to offer a few words at the closing of the eleventh Regional Security Conference. 

First and foremost—let me thank Minister Degenhart and the Government of Guatemala again for hosting us here in Guatemala City. And thank you to Minister Rivas and Minister Pacheco for your critical leadership and valuable partnership.     

Today’s meeting has been yet another important success in our efforts to increase border security, stem irregular migration, and counter the strangle-hold of transnational criminal organizations on the region’s prosperity.  

Specifically, we have: Developed the next steps towards fully implementing our prior agreements; Identified new opportunities to further our shared goals protecting our most vulnerable populations and maintaining and further reducing illegal migratory flows; and Provided avenues for legitimate asylum seekers to seek protection closer to home. 

I’m also pleased to announce that, today, the United States and El Salvador will enter into a Joint Security Program arrangement, or JSP.  

The JSP will solidify our partnership in securing El Salvadoran aviation systems from passengers linked to terrorism, narcotics, weapons, and currency smuggling. 

This JSP is the 12th operational agreement since June of this year that DHS has signed with our partners in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. 

This achievement, and future steps discussed today, leave me confident in the path our countries are charting to build a more secure and prosperous region.

I look forward to deepening our collaboration even further as we move towards the implementation of the twelve agreements and arrangements we have reached. 

For our regional partners, unprecedented irregular migratory flows from this region are unsustainable.  No country can afford the incalculable loss of growth that comes with losing such a significant portion of its population.  

That is why President Trump has made it a priority, with our valued partners in the region, to stamp out this crisis.

As a result of our Administration’s many efforts including our regional partnerships with you, illegally migrating to the United States has never been less likely to succeed. 

For those in the region who may be weighing the option of taking the dangerous journey north, I’d strongly urge you against it. 

Don’t line the pockets of human smugglers, who have no regard for your safety and security.  

Simply requesting asylum at the Southwest Border no longer guarantees release into the interior, like it once did. We have ended catch-and-release. 

Instead, migrants can expect to be apprehended, inspected, and processed in an expedited fashion and be required to wait in Mexico for the duration of their U.S. immigration court proceedings. 

While others may be sent to another country in the region to seek protections there. 

Those with false asylum claims will unequivocally be denied entry. And they will be swiftly repatriated to their country of origin within hours. 

But those with a legitimate claim for asylum will be welcomed. In fact, we have put into place new programs that will process meritorious asylum claims in a matter of months instead of years.

The United States is proud to offer the most generous legal immigration system in the world—one that we intend to preserve for generations to come. 

We are a nation of immigrants, surely, but we too are a nation of laws. 

Only by restoring integrity to our immigration system that we can remain the most generous legal immigration system in the world. 

And only by restoring integrity to our immigration system that we can ensure it is the most effective at granting prompt relief to those who have legitimate claims for asylum. 

Anyone who would like to make the United States their home, must respect and follow our legal immigration processes.  

Finally, let me recognize the leadership of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. 

My counterparts beside me and their respective Governments are taking significant action to secure the region for future generations.  

The United States will continue to do all we can to support this effort, to make this region secure and abundant with economic opportunities for its citizens.

Thank you, again, Ministers for your collaboration with the United States. 

I look forward to continuing our important work together.

 

 

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Last Published Date: December 12, 2019
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