In accordance with President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency stemming from immigration at the US-Mexico, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen has unveiled a new, multilateral security initiative between the governments of the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
In a statement, El Salvador’s government said the new initiative was aimed at attacking the finances, logistics and communication platforms of people-trafficking networks.
The three Central American countries will seek to harmonize their legislation for tackling such groups and other criminal gangs, the statement said. Along with the United States, the three countries will increase the use of intelligence-sharing technology.
It was not immediately clear if the United States would provide additional funding for the new effort.
Not all migrants heading north from Central America pay people smugglers to help them cross perilous, drug cartel-controlled territory in Mexico or to ensure their passage across the heavily patrolled U.S.-Mexican border.
Thousands of Central Americans have banded together in so-called caravans this year as a form of protection against the perils that typically stalk migrants headed to the U.S. border.
“Today I ask everyone to show leadership to stop the formation of the caravans that have brought crime, violence and instability to the region,” Nielsen said.
While some caravans have been encouraged by activists, others emerged spontaneously, as news spread through neighborhoods about groups forming to head to Mexico and onward to the United States.
Fueled by attention from Trump, the caravans have attracted widespread media coverage. The number of people traveling in them, however, is a fraction of the total number of migrants who head for the U.S. border.