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U.S. and Honduras Sign More Arrangements to Expand Collaboration to Confront Irregular Migration
Southern Border News

WASHINGTON – Today, on behalf of the Trump Administration, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan signed two arrangements with the Government of Honduras to expand bilateral initiatives to confront irregular migration through Central America. The signings, which took place at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington, will increase collaboration between the two countries on key issues.

“These arrangements follow the signing of a cooperative agreement on Wednesday will further enhance asylum and protection capacity in Honduras and provide protection for vulnerable populations as close to home as possible,” said Acting Secretary McAleenan. “DHS will continue to confront irregular migration with its international partners to improve safety and prosperity in the Central America region, mitigating the 'push and pull' factors that contribute to the security and humanitarian crisis on our Southwest border.”

The first arrangement signed will enhance cooperation to strengthen immigration enforcement in order to further impede irregular migration flows from and through Central America. With this agreement, the U.S. and Honduras will collaborate to support criminal investigations targeting gangs, human smuggling, and trafficking networks. The U.S. will also provide technical support to Honduras’s efforts to establish capacity building.

The second arrangement signed will expand information sharing by supporting Honduran efforts to coordinate the use and implementation of data sharing program to support law enforcement and public safety. This will allow the U.S. and Honduras to automatically exchange information in real-time on third-country nationals trying to enter Honduras. This program is a critical tool in advancing shared law enforcement and irregular migration management priorities.

An agreement was also signed today between the U.S. Department of Labor and Honduras to improve nonimmigrant visa program operations and implementation. With this agreement, the U.S. and Honduras put into action a joint effort to address expanding opportunities legal immigration from Honduras to support U.S. business interests, reducing non-tariff trade barriers to promote foreign direct investment, trade facilitation, and customs enhancement.

“With Honduras’ commitment to protecting their workers from criminal actors who charge excessive fees and facilitate human trafficking, U.S. employers relying on the H-2 programs can feel confident the workers they recruit from Honduras are coming to the U.S. to work a good job and return to Honduras to build their life and family,” said the U.S. Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John P. Pallasch. “Through this agreement, the Honduran government will provide for temporary workers seeking employment in the United States and will coordinate with U.S. employers in the recruitment process. The agreement will complement existing U.S. laws and strengthen the protections for U.S. workers as well as prospective Honduran H-2 workers by ensuring Honduran H-2 workers are less susceptible to criminal actors and are not charged excessive fees as part of the H-2 nonimmigrant visa program.”

Through August of this fiscal year, more than 72 percent of migrants apprehended at the U.S. Southwest border came from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Each of these countries has now entered into agreements with the Trump Administration to confront irregular migration.

Submitted 9.27.19
Acting Secretary McAleenan Announces End to Widespread Catch and Release
Southern Border News

WASHINGTON - During a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations today in Washington, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan announced the combined impact of DHS initiatives that will effectively end “catch and release” for Central American families arriving at the border. The policy, which will be instituted by DHS starting next week, is part of the Trump Administration’s strategy to mitigate the loopholes that act as a “pull factor” for family units seeking to cross illegally at the Southwest border.

“With some humanitarian and medical exceptions, DHS will no longer be releasing family units from Border Patrol Stations into the interior,” said Acting Secretary McAleenan. “This means that for family units, the largest demographic by volume arriving at the border this year, the court-mandated practice of catch and release, due to the inability of DHS to complete immigration proceedings with families detained together in custody, will have been mitigated. This is a vital step in restoring the rule of law and integrity to our immigration system.”

If migrant family units do not claim fear of return, they will be quickly returned to their country of origin, in close collaboration with Central American countries. If they do claim fear, they will generally be returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

Implementing these tools ensures effective immigration results without releasing family units into the U.S. interior. This approach also serves as a transition to full implementation of the Flores final rule, which will further allow DHS to hold families together through fair and expeditious immigration proceedings.

Apprehensions have hit record levels this year. In May, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended or encountered over 144,000 migrants at our Southwest border, 90% crossed illegally between ports of entry. This included a day of over 5,800 border crossings in a single 24-hour period. It also included the largest single group ever apprehended, 1,036 migrants crossing together in the El Paso sector. Of the record May apprehensions, 72% were of unaccompanied children and family units. However, upon the implementation of several DHS initiatives, daily arrivals have decreased by 64% from May and total enforcement actions for Central Americans arriving at the border have been reduced by over 70%.

Acting Secretary McAleenan’s prepared remarks from the speech can be viewed here.

Submitted 9.23.19