Government officials from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the US said in a statement on Wednesday that they had agreed on a regional pact to carry out a series of measures — including joint police work and improved border security — to curb “irregular migration”, according to presstv.ir.
The announcement came after meetings in Honduras between Central American officials and US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Describing the multilateral agreement as “historic,” Nielsen said the meeting was aimed at addressing what she called a “migration crisis,” and that the countries had agreed to reinforce security in air, land, and sea to restrict the movement of migrants.
“I’m pleased to announce the US and our Northern Triangle allies have reached a historic agreement to confront the root causes of the crisis on our border,” Nielsen said via Twitter on Wednesday. “Working with Central American governments to increase security and prosperity in the region has been one of my greatest priorities.”
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez also praised the accord, saying in a tweet that, “A peaceful and prosperous Honduras and Central America is the best investment for the US and Central American people.”
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had a day earlier announced that the multilateral meeting marked the continuation of Washington’s diplomatic efforts to halt “the flood of irregular migration at the source, and ultimately help confront the ongoing humanitarian and security emergency” along the US-Mexico border.
Over the past year, a series of migrant caravans from Central American countries have journeyed north to seek asylum in the US, drawing the ire of US President Donald Trump, who is opposed to such migration.
Trump has long promised to build a wall on the US border with Mexico to physically stop the inflow of the migrants but has failed to fulfill that pledge so far.
The US president had initially promised that Mexico would pay for his wall. When he failed to secure funding from Mexico, Trump turned to US Congress, which also refused. To bypass Congress, the US president last month declared a “national emergency” to corral funds allocated to other US organizations and funnel them to his wall project.
Trump has called the entry of the caravans an “invasion” by “thugs” and “criminals” and warned them to turn back or his administration would separate families at the border with Mexico, a policy condemned by Amnesty International and other rights groups as “disgraceful, mean-spirited and unlawful.”
The US Customs and Border Protection says more than 76,000 undocumented migrants crossed into the US in February.
The latest migrant caravan reportedly set off toward the United States earlier this week, with many of the migrants saying they are fleeing persecution, violence, and poverty in their home countries.