President Joe Biden’s border chief told government leaders in Guatemala that he is seeking to create “other legal paths” for migrants to enter the United States, according to a Spanish-language news agency.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday.
Spanish news wire EFE quoted the DHS secretary as saying he discussed creating “other legal paths so that people do not need to migrate irregularly, putting the lives of children or their trust in people who do not have permits at risk.”
“The fact that people leave [Guatemala] for different reasons is driving them to put their lives at the discretion of traffickers, in whose hands we cannot guarantee their safety. We have started and developed programs so that the population does not have to travel in an insecure way,” Mayorkas added.
Mayorkas, who arrived in Guatemala for a two-day visit Tuesday, noted the U.S. already provides Guatemalans H-2B visas for temporary jobs and H-2A visas for agricultural work.
The DHS chief also signed two agreements to combat organized crime and tackle illegal migration at the Central American country’s borders and ports during the meeting.
Guatemalan Foreign Minister (FM) Pedro Brolo, who also attended the meeting, reiterated Guatemala’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS) request for its compatriots riding illegally in the United States. Each year, an estimated 300,000 Guatemalans attempt to sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border, a figure that appears to include those who successfully make it through.
Citing official U.S. figures, EFE noted there more than three million Guatemalans in the United States, the majority of them illegal aliens, adding that each year at least 300,000 individuals attempt to sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border, an estimate that appears to include those who successfully make it through.
According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, a component of DHS, border agents have encountered over 600,000 Guatemalans along the border since 2018, a figure that excludes those who avoid detection.
Via Twitter, the DHS secretary noted that he joined the Guatemalan president and FM to discuss various issues of shared interest, including “respecting the dignity of every human being.”
Today I joined Guatemalan President @DrGiammattei and Minister of Foreign Affairs @PedroBroloGT to discuss our shared interests in strengthening our collective security, defending the rule of law, and respecting the dignity of every human being. pic.twitter.com/8XlquVweU5
— Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (@SecMayorkas) July 7, 2021
Guatemala borders Honduras and El Salvador in the south and Mexico in the north. The DHS chief said at the meeting that the U.S. would strengthen security at Guatemala’s borders.
Meanwhile, critics accuse the Biden administration of implementing a semi-open border policy responsible for a huge surge of migrants that has overwhelmed U.S. personnel and resources.
The agreements with Guatemala are essential to the Biden-Harris administration’s vision of strengthening local development and undermining corruption, drug trafficking, and human smuggling, Mayorkas told reporters after meeting Giammattei, according to EFE.
Mayorkas declared that the Biden-Harris administration “is committed to strengthening [the security of] the ports of Guatemala, fighting corruption, strengthening port operations and stopping the illicit drug trafficking and other articles.”
Under the agreements, the U.S. commits to fight customs fraud and illegal migration through the Guatemalan ports of entry.
Moreover, the U.S. will help train 1,500 new police officers to protect the Central American country’s border against human trafficking.
Mayorkas stressed that “the battle against illicit trafficking is important for the prosperity [of Guatemala] and to strengthen trade and legal travel between countries.”
The DHS secretary also confirmed that the U.S. would donate 1.5 million doses of Moderna vaccines against the Chinese coronavirus, scheduled to arrive in Guatemala next Thursday.
He wrote on Twitter, “The United States is supplying these life-saving vaccines to Guatemala for a simple reason: this is a global pandemic, and we can only end it if we get shots into everyone’s arms, safely, swiftly, equitably, no matter where they live.”
The United States 🇺🇸 is supplying these life-saving vaccines to Guatemala 🇹 for a simple reason: this is a global pandemic, and we can only end it if we get shots into everyone’s arms, safely, swiftly, equitably, no matter where they live.
— Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (@SecMayorkas) July 7, 2021
Mayorkas’s visit comes a month after Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico in early June.
President Joe Biden tapped Harris to address the alleged “roots” of migration in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador in Central America.
Biden has now sent Mayorkas to the region twice after Harris, including right after her trip and the ongoing visit to Guatemala. Harris’s team has reportedly indicated that the VP wants to avoid the border crisis because it can hurt her chances of becoming president in the future.
The Biden administration saw the Northern Triangle as key to dealing with border crisis fueled by the record-shattering surge of migrants, who traditionally came from that region.
Echoing a recent Breitbart News analysis, however, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that migration from the Northern Triangle is dropping and is offset by migrants from outside the region, including Mexico and a growing number of nations beyond that country and Central America.
Panamanian authorities, who help U.S.-bound illegal migrants aided by the State Department transit through their country, have warned of an unprecedented wave of migrants from Haiti, Cuba, and as far as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Breitbart News has noted that Biden’s lenient immigration policies are attracting migrants from across the globe.