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  4. Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks at a Press Conference in Guatemala

Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks at a Press Conference in Guatemala

Release Date: March 21, 2024

Secretary Mayorkas delivered the following remarks at a press conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala, alongside President Bernardo Arévalo following a bilateral meeting.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your warm welcome to Guatemala. This is my second trip to Guatemala City as Secretary – I appreciate the hospitality your country has again shown me, and the strong partnership our countries share in security matters. It was a privilege today to continue the conversation we began last month at the Munich Security Conference and further expand our countries’ cooperation with one another.

I am joined this afternoon by our new Ambassador to Guatemala, leadership throughout the Department of Homeland Security, by our United States Ambassador to Mexico. Since President Arévalo and I met in Munich at the Security Conference, we have held a trilateral meeting with Mexico and Guatemala, we have had the High-Level Economic Dialogue earlier this week, we had the very important security-focused meeting this morning, and on Monday, of course, the President will meet with Vice President Kamala Harris. This is a reflection of how much President Arévalo inspires us in the United States, how much confidence we have in his leadership, and how much hope we have for the people of Guatemala led by him.

The United States recognizes that regular, open, effective collaboration, based on mutual respect, is critical to our individual and shared security. That is why, earlier this week, the United States was proud to send a delegation of senior administration officials here for a High-Level Economic Dialogue, to expand our joint economic efforts. The United States Department of Homeland Security is supporting these efforts: we are improving connectivity between United States employers and potential Guatemalan beneficiaries of temporary work visas, and we are helping to facilitate increased trade between our countries, including through coordinated port security, customs-related measures, and combating the undervaluation of goods.

Globally, we are facing the greatest displacement of people since World War II. That is why, last month, Secretary of State Blinken and I hosted Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Martinez, as well as Foreign Minister Barcena of Mexico, in Washington for a ministerial focused on our shared efforts and responsibility to address irregular migration and displacement across our region. This includes the establishment of our new, operationally-focused trilateral working group, through which our countries’ law enforcement authorities are working together to identify capability gaps, share information, and develop coordinated operational plans at our borders.

Finally, the importance of continued collaboration is why, next week, as we both have mentioned, the United States will welcome President Arévalo to Washington, DC, where he will meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and other senior administration officials to further these initiatives and more.

Together, our countries are taking concrete steps to better address the challenges our hemisphere faces – from managing unprecedented levels of migration and dismantling ruthless transnational criminal networks, to combating corruption and enhancing the security of ports of entry. As we work together to advance the security of our region, we are also working together to advance the economic prosperity of our region. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is proud to directly support these efforts.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building on, and sustaining, the progress our two countries have made together.

First and foremost, this means implementing, and strictly enforcing, a strategy for addressing the historic migratory flows that are challenging both our countries – one that pairs the expansion of safe, orderly, and lawful pathways for individuals with the imposition of strict consequences for those who do not avail themselves of those lawful means, including swift repatriation and a ban on reentry.

The Biden-Harris Administration has overseen an historic expansion of lawful pathways, including the creation of Safe Mobility Offices, that provide real solutions and alternatives to irregular migration. Thanks to President Arévalo and his administration’s partnership with the United States, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, these offices have already helped more than 1,500 Guatemalans safely and lawfully enter the United States.

The progress our two countries made today will facilitate the more effective implementation and the enforcement of this migration model. There is no more fundamental responsibility of any government than to safeguard its homeland and its people. The United States and Guatemala share this principle, and we are working together to fulfill this responsibility. Further progress will require continued alignment between our two countries on shared priorities, and on our commitment to implementing them together. It is my hope that the discussions we engaged in today, as sovereign nations and as partners, will lay the foundation for the security and prosperity of all our people.

Let me take an additional moment and state something very clearly: we know that the forces of corruption continue to seek to threaten democracy and the well-being of the people of Guatemala and beyond. The United States stands with President Arévalo and his fight for democracy against the forces of corruption, and for the people of Guatemala. We are inspired by, and grateful for, his leadership.

I again thank President Arévalo for his partnership, friendship, and for the opportunity to join him in Guatemala today. Thank you.

Last Updated: 03/22/2024
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