WASHINGTON – On July 6-7, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas was in Guatemala to meet with government officials and conduct site visits highlighting the partnership between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Guatemalan counterparts. Secretary Mayorkas’ trip builds on the commitments, expressed by Vice President Kamala Harris during her visit to Guatemala, to work together to expand lawful pathways for migration, address the root causes driving individuals to leave their homes, and combat criminal organizations who prey on the vulnerable. During the trip, Secretary Mayorkas announced that 1.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped from the United States to Guatemala this week.
“The partnership the United States and Guatemala share is of utmost importance,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “We will continue to work to deepen our collaboration around issues of mutual interest, such as preserving our nations’ security, defending the rule of law, and respecting the dignity of every human being. ”
While in Guatemala City, Secretary Mayorkas and President Giammattei discussed their strong bilateral partnership. Secretary Mayorkas thanked President Giammattei for his efforts to provide support for returned migrants, for opening a new refugee center to offer protection to those who qualify, and for his collaboration in combating transnational criminal organizations. Secretary Mayorkas emphasized the benefits of the bilateral partnership for increasing security at ports of entry to facilitate lawful trade and travel, as well as U.S. efforts to create safe and lawful pathways for migration that offer an alternative to irregular migration.
In addition, Secretary Mayorkas met with Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo, Attorney General Consuelo Porras, Minister of Government Gendri Reyes, Vice Minister for Security Franco Urzua, Vice Minister for Prevention Rubio, and Vice Minister for Counternarcotics Rodas de Leon.
During these meetings, Secretary Mayorkas highlighted critical partnerships to combat human smuggling through the Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit as well as joint efforts to address security, combat corruption, enhance transparency and the rule of law, and fight the illicit trade of narcotics and counterfeit goods – all of which will serve to strengthen the economic security of Guatemala and its citizens.
Minister Reyes and Secretary Mayorkas signed the Biometric Data Sharing Partnership Letter of Intent, which communicates both countries’ interest in improved screening to combat human smuggling and trafficking through ports of entry. Secretary Mayorkas also praised Minister Reyes for establishing the Mobile Tactical Interdiction Unit, which Vice President Harris announced during her visit.
To further enhance security and facilitate lawful travel, U.S. Customs and Border Protection signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Guatemalan Institute of Migration to implement the Automated Targeting System – Global in Guatemala.
Secretary Mayorkas participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Reception Center for Returned Migrants, an operation supported by both DHS and the United States Agency for International Development. He also visited the newly established Migration Resource Center, which is the first of many the U.S. plans to facilitate legal pathways and other opportunities for returnees and would-be migrants. These operations demonstrate the commitment of both countries to support and offer opportunities and alternatives to Guatemalan citizens returned home from the United States, as well as those who may be considering risking their lives to irregularly migrate north.
Finally, Secretary Mayorkas met with the DHS workforce in Guatemala to express his appreciation for their service and their work in supporting President Biden’s agenda in Guatemala and the region, and held a roundtable with U.S. Government partners in the region who provide services and alternatives for migrants, including representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Children’s Fund.