Visit of President Perez Molina of Guatemala, President Hernandez of Honduras, and President Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador

Washington, DC - Today, the President and Vice President hosted Presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador to discuss how the United States and Central American governments are cooperating to disrupt smuggling organizations and promote safe, legal, and orderly migration. 

The leaders discussed how we can work together with other members of the international community to accelerate development, economic growth, and security improvements in the region and address the systemic factors that are causing Central American citizens to undertake the dangerous journey to the United States.

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

The Administration remains greatly concerned by the numbers of unaccompanied children who are crossing into the United States. These children are some of the most vulnerable, and many become victims of violent crime, gang recruitment, exploitation, or sexual abuse along the dangerous journey.  This is a humanitarian matter and our first priority is to make sure these children are housed, fed, and receive any necessary medical treatment. We will also enforce U.S. immigration laws and the most effective way to deter the use of these dangerous human smuggling routes is to repatriate those who have crossed the border recently and have no relief from removal.  We have made clear that migrant children and adults arriving with their children are not eligible to benefit from the passage of immigration reform legislation or from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security are enhancing enforcement and removal activities.  DOJ is deploying additional immigration judges to increase capacity to process the cases of recent undocumented entrants, and to handle immigration court hearings as efficiently as possible while ensuring due process to safely return unlawful migrants to their home countries more quickly.

Shared Responsibility

The Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have coordinated closely with the United States in responding to increased irregular migration. They have implemented public awareness campaigns on the dangers of irregular migration, increased their consular presence on the border, and strengthened their enforcement efforts against smuggling organizations. In addition, the United States is working in close coordination with each country to ensure the safe, orderly, and dignified return of their citizens and to ensure adequate repatriation and reintegration resources in each country.  The United States is also providing $9.6 million in additional resources to support and expand repatriation center capacity and to provide training to immigration officials on migrant care and to increase the capacity of these governments and non-governmental organizations to provide expanded services to returned migrants.

Commitment to Central America’s Security and Development

Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador face very complex challenges that have contributed to the recent increase in individuals emigrating from their home countries, including high levels of violent crime, poverty, and lack of opportunities.  The United States recognizes these serious challenges and is committed to promoting the evolution of a Central America that is prosperous, democratic, and secure. We continue to operate robust programs to support our Central American partners providing $161.5 million this year for Central America Regional Security Initiative programs that are important to enabling Central American countries to respond to pressing security and governance challenges.  The United States also provides almost $130 million in ongoing bilateral assistance to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala for a variety of programs related to health, education, climate change, economic growth, military cooperation, and democracy assistance.

The Administration is working to increase its support for Central America, beginning with $300 million in foreign assistance in the emergency supplemental request sent to Congress. The United States seeks to work with Central America, Mexico, Colombia, multilateral development banks, and other international partners to develop a sustained, well-coordinated plan to address the challenges facing Central America.  This effort will require the leadership of Central American governments, in close collaboration with civil society and the private sector to foster broad-based, lasting improvements in social and economic conditions in the region.

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