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US expected to sign regional accord with Central American officials to address 'migration crisis'

Key Points
  • DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is scheduled to be in Honduras on Wednesday to sign "a first-of-its-kind regional accord" with leaders from the Northern Triangle of Central America.
  • According to DHS, the regional pact between the U.S. and government officials of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador is aimed at addressing what it called "the migration crisis."
  • The agreement includes a focus on "preventing the formation of new migrant caravans that set out to reach the United States," the agency said.
Salvadorans take part in a new caravan of migrants, set to head to the United States, as they leave San Salvador, El Salvador January 16, 2019.
Jose Cabezas | Reuters

LOS ANGELES — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is scheduled to be in Honduras on Wednesday to sign "a first-of-its-kind regional accord" with leaders from the Northern Triangle of Central America. Ahead of the trip, she on Tuesday met with Mexican officials in Miami to discuss border issues.

According to DHS, the regional pact between the U.S. and government officials of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador is aimed at addressing "the migration crisis" that the Trump administration has highlighted. Some of the migrants have reportedly been fleeing violence from organized crime and drug trafficking.

DHS said Nielsen will participate in a multilateral meeting Wednesday with Central American officials, marking the continuation of the administration'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 U.S.-Mexico border.

The accord includes a focus on "preventing the formation of new migrant caravans that set out to reach the United States," according to DHS.

In addition, DHS said the final "regional compact" also will cover what it called "four distinct areas of collaboration," including combating human trafficking and migrant smuggle, countering gangs and organized crime activities, expanding intelligence sharing, and strengthening border security.

Caravan of Central American migrants became an issue in last year's midterm elections after President Donald Trump deployed more than 5,000 troops to the southern border with Mexico. In the past year, thousands of Central American migrants have journeyed north to border cities such as Tijuana and sought asylum in the U.S.

On Tuesday, there were reports of a new caravan of 2,500 migrants making their way to the U.S. border after stopping in Huixtla, a city in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas.

On Tuesday, Nielsen met with Mexico's Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero and other senior government officials in Miami to discuss a variety of border and immigration issues, including smuggling and security cooperation.

DHS said the two governments also discussed ways to "work together to address irregular migration and record levels of illegal entries at the U.S. Southern Border." The agency said the U.S. apprehended more than 75,000 individuals last month, which it called "a 12-year high."