October 21, 2021


News Network

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, Mexican Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodriguez, and Mexican Interior Secretary Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez Remarks Before the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue

24 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Merrick Garland, United States Attorney General

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexican Foreign Secretary

Rosa Icela Rodriguez, Mexican Security Secretary

Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez, Mexican Interior Secretary

Mexico City, Mexico

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

FOREIGN SECRETARY EBRARD: (Via translation) Good morning. I want to give the warmest welcome to the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken. We want to thank the very special presence of the U.S. Attorney General and Secretary Mayorkas.

Mr. Attorney General Garland, thank you very much, thank you for being here. Secretary Mayorkas, Alejandro, you and I talk daily. Welcome to your home. I want to welcome Ambassador Kenneth Lee Salazar, many thanks Ambassador Ken. And to the whole U.S. delegation, thank you for being here.

I want to welcome my colleagues, we are coming from a breakfast with the president, Secretary of Public Security Rosa Icela Rodriguez, Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez, many thanks for being here with us Adan; the Secretary of National Defense General Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the Secretary of the Navy Admiral Rafael Ojeda, many thanks admiral; and of course, we want to thank Mexican ambassador to Washington Esteban Moctezuema for his presence, thank you ambassador; and the commander of our National Guard, General Luis Rodiguez Bucio; Ricardo Mejia, Undersecretary of Security who oversees these issues daily; Francisco Garduño of the National Migration Institute; Roberto Velasco of the Foreign Ministry; Dr. Santiago Nieto chief of the Financial Intelligence Unit, and of course, Mr. Mendez representing the Prosecutor General’s Office today.

I want to briefly say that this is a working meeting dedicated to an understanding. We have called it so, to set the ground and detail joint work on security, health, and safe communities, developing our communities. Today we will review the content and let you know what we arrive at. So as not to go on too long and yield the floor to my colleague Antony Blinken, I will say that what motivates this understanding is firstly mutual respect, respect for each country’s sovereignty, ours and the United States. Secondly, this is not just any cooperation agreement. This is an alliance on security. An alliance has a different qualitative level, different to a limited cooperation agreement. In an alliance, we have a single objective. We have trust. We respect each other, and we set the grounds for how we are going to work.

This understanding is good news for our societies because it will allow us to have better results. Ultimately that is what it is all about. We will deliver good results for our societies. President Lopez Obrador met today with the U.S. delegation and expressed this. We salute President Biden and his expressions of affection and closeness to Mexico, and all U.S. representatives, and I yield the floor to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Gracias, Marcelo. Buenos dias, todos. It’s wonderful to be here in Mexico and wonderful to be here with this delegation and with our colleagues. I am very pleased to represent the United States alongside my colleagues Alejandro Mayorkas, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Merrick Garland, the United States Attorney General; Wally Adeyemo, the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, as well as other very senior colleagues from across our administration.

And we’re here because this High-Level Security Dialogue is a vital venue for addressing some of the most urgent challenges facing our two countries. That’s why President Biden and President Lopez Obrador committed together to launch this effort. Vice President Harris reaffirmed that commitment when she traveled here in June, and today we will carry forward the work for the benefit of people on – in both countries.

I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say how pleased we are to launch this new framework. After 13 years of the Merida Initiative, it’s time for a comprehensive, new approach to our security cooperation – one that will see us as equal partners in defining our shared priorities; tackle the root drivers of these challenges, like inequity, like corruption; and focus not only on strengthening law enforcement but also public health, the rule of law, inclusive economic opportunities.

Our countries are connected by vast – economic, cultural, and family ties – and we also share a commitment to give all of our people a free, peaceful, and prosperous future. For that, we need security. Transnational criminal organizations continue to threaten communities throughout both of our countries. They are responsible for most of the illicit drugs and contraband trafficked into the United States, as well as into Mexico and a great deal of violence and insecurity here as well. Both of our presidents have named as priorities pursuing criminal networks, preventing transborder crime, protecting our people.

To do that, we have to do more to disrupt arms and narcotics trafficking and human smuggling, to strengthen border and port security, to dismantle the financial systems that sustain organized crime; and to root out impunity and to hold accountable human rights abusers, and critically, to address public health issues of addiction, which fuel the drug trade, cause enormous pain for families and communities, and fuel demand as well.

These are national security issues; they’re law enforcement issues and they’re justice issues, because supporting the rule of law, combating corruption, promoting human rights, will be woven throughout all of the work we’re doing. And again, that’s why there’s not just a Secretary of State, but a Secretary of Homeland security, an Attorney General, a Deputy Treasury Secretary here today, because all of our departments are committed to this effort working with our counterparts.

Let me just add that criminal organizations are constantly adapting techniques. They’re making the most of new technologies, so we need to adapt as well. We need to be just as creative and nimble. This new security dialogue promises to drive that innovative approach.

Most of all, we have to be fully committed to this fight and fully committed to our cooperation, because these are challenges that Mexico and the United States can only solve working together as partners with shared responsibility. We know that drug trafficking and other transnational crime aren’t just flowing south to north. This is a cycle that continues, because of activity on both sides of the border. And the United States will do our part to try to end the cycle.

So, we’re looking forward, Marcelo, to a very productive meeting, a lot of good work together in the months ahead – again, as equal partners with shared responsibility while we strive to make our countries safer for our people. Thank you so much.

FOREIGN SECRETARY EBRARD: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.


INTERIOR SECRETARY LOPEZ: (Via interpreter) It’s a pleasure for me to welcome to Mexico, Mr. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Welcome to Mexico, all the participants in the honorable delegation of the United States of America, and Mr. Secretary Mayorkas and the Attorney General of the United States Garland, as well as the other members of the high-level delegation, Ambassador Salazar. And of course, being here with my colleagues – my work colleagues – and I’ll be seeing with the Mexican delegation, high-level delegation, for this meeting led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard.

Our countries share not only a very vast territory border, but also a very long story that is identifying both countries and pushes us to find points of coincidence to strengthen a very old and earnest friendship. This is a friendship that has been ratified by our presidents, Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aiming to promote the development and well-being of our populations. I’m certain that this friendship among our political leaders will guide us to move forward in the strategies and the lines of action that are perfectly defined in the topics that are defined as priority, aiming to build safer communities on both sides of our common border.

Of course, that in the past, in some occasions we have had divergent points, particularly regarding the border situation, which is a very difficult situation. However, both working teams I’m certain will be able to contribute to promote better and better conditions of cooperation that will turn this border into a very adequate space to continue establishing the basis of our friendship.

Of course, there are very strong bonds linking us, and strengthening the political agreements to push forward the bilateral agenda with the utmost respect to the sovereignty of both nations, and that’s when the dialogue and bilateral becomes extremely important to subscribe mutual understanding agreements on the topics that are essential to strengthen our situation and to bring together both societies.

Politics is the most important instrument and the most valuable instrument that we have to bring together our interests and to promote efforts that will continue to bring us forward in a new program that will serve the needs of the most vulnerable populations of both nations so as to, as Mr. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador mentioned this morning, to stop migration from being a need in most of our inhabitants and becoming a voluntary migration. President López Obrador is determined to find new focuses in the high-level negotiation and the reciprocate assistance of both countries that goes beyond our territories and covers the entire American continent, aiming to promote economic development and social well-being, and building a political order that is based on the respect of the rights of everyone.

We know that most relationships that are promoted in the political understanding is not exempt of complex situations, and it’s important to take care of them with the political will and with great vision. If in the future of our relationship this is the intention, then it will not only allow for very close cooperation to completely fulfill our strategic objectives and the commitments, but it will also become the basis for a new and fruitful bilateral relationship that is now 200 years old.

So, feel at home, Mr. Secretary. I wish the yield of this conversation is to allow us to think for a promising future for both nations. Thank you.


ATTORNEY GENERAL GARLAND: Thank you very much. It’s an honor to be here to be able to discuss ways in which our two countries can continue to work together, to intensify the way we do work together, to provide security for all of our citizens, of both countries. The United States Department of Justice is firmly supportive of this dialogue, this framework. The best symbol I can offer of that is that this is my first trip to any country outside of the United States, since becoming the attorney general, and it reflects the degree of importance that the Justice Department and the United States accords to these dialogues. Thank you.

FOREIGN SECRETARY EBRARD: Thank you very much, Mr. General Attorney. (In Spanish.)

SECURITY SECRETARY RODRIGUEZ: (Via interpreter) (In progress) delegation of the United States led by Mr. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Also, Secretary Mayorkas, Attorney General Garland, and all the delegation, welcome, my colleagues from the cabinet of Mexico. And I would also like to thank the good coordination and the leadership of Chancellor Ebrard. And our friends from the media, welcome.

The security in Mexico and the U.S. is a binational affair that is always seen under the terms of respect of sovereignty and the laws of each country. Under that context, we’ve been working in a coordinated fashion to achieve safer areas on both sides of the border, and we want to continue this way together, facing issues like arms contraband, the smuggling of people, and drug trafficking that are costing so many lives in the fight among criminal groups and the loss of lives due to addictions as well.

This new understanding between our governments is looking to implement a binational strategy that will bring peace to the region. For many years, the issue of security in Mexico has been – had been covered, only measured, by the use of force. So far, we’ve been fighting the causes that are originating this violence with social programs, intelligence, and coordination, hearing men and women in their towns and their municipalities and communities.

As the first woman secretary of security in Mexico, I’ve said that our focus is not to win the war, but to win peace and the tranquility of Mexican people. This binational table is not of main intentions, but also – or good intentions, but also good actions. I would like to list some of the achievements that we had in Mexico working in a coordinated way as the Mexican state. The list includes topics such as the detention of over 1,000 criminals who were main targets, the decommissioning of 2,000 kilograms of fentanyl, 1,300 kilograms of heroin, 1,343 grenades, and firearms.

We’ll continue doing this together because we are neighbors, we are partners. And in many regions, we are family. There is a very close linkage between our binational community, and I can tell you certainly that the United States of Mexico and the United States of America are working together for a closer region because we are bound by peace.

FOREIGN SECRETARY EBRARD: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Secretary. Now, we are going to hear Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Security in the United States.

SECRETARY MAYORKAS: Thank you very much, Secretary Ebrard. Thank you to your colleagues, and a special thanks to President Lopez Obrador for hosting us. Thank you very much for a close partnership and friendship.

This is my third trip to Mexico City in the short period that I have been in office as the Secretary of Homeland Security. This focus reflects the fact that our partnership, our relationship, is most important. We are more than just neighbors. We have a special bond and a shared commitment to the people whom we represent together.

I am honored to be with all of you today, as we move forward with a new framework for our bilateral security relationship. I am inspired that the new framework is built on the principle that social development is the foundation for the security and prosperity of our future. The Department of Homeland Security will continue to be a committed partner in executing this new vision.

Our countries have accomplished a great deal together in combating the forces that seek to disrupt order and imperil the everyday safety of our citizens seeking to make a better life for themselves. But there’s more work to do. Too many people continue to suffer, especially those in our society who are the most vulnerable.

They are still suffering, and thus, in the days ahead, and with this new vision for security guiding us, we will focus more intensely than before on the root and core of the forces that threaten us, tackling the underlying reasons, why they continue to exist and grow. This focus will be an important complement to our ongoing collaboration, to more traditional security matters. It will be additive, and I believe its results will be enduring.

I am grateful for the close partnership we enjoy as governments and for the friendships I have developed with you personally. I express my dedication to the new framework we have built and to the shared commitment it represents. This effort will make us stronger and safer together. Thank you.

FOREIGN SECRETARY EBRARD: Thank you very much.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, Merrick Garland, United States Attorney General, Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, Marcelo Ebrard, Mexican Foreign Secretary, Rosa Icela Rodriguez, Mexican Security Secretary, Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez, Mexican Interior Secretary

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  • Climate Change: A Climate Migration Pilot Program Could Enhance the Nation’s Resilience and Reduce Federal Fiscal Exposure
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    GAO identified few communities in the United States that have considered climate migration as a resilience strategy, and two—Newtok, Alaska, and Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana—that moved forward with relocation. Newtok, for example, faced imminent danger from shoreline erosion due to thawing permafrost and storm surge (see figure). Literature and experts suggest that many more communities will need to consider relocating in coming decades. Shoreline Erosion at Newtok, Alaska, from July 2007 to October 2019. Federal programs provide limited support to climate migration efforts because they are designed to address other priorities, according to literature GAO reviewed and interviews with stakeholders and federal officials. Federal programs generally are not designed to address the scale and complexity of community relocation and generally fund acquisition of properties at high risk of damage from disasters in response to a specific event such as a hurricane. Unclear federal leadership is the key challenge to climate migration as a resilience strategy. Because no federal agency has the authority to lead federal assistance for climate migration, support for climate migration efforts has been provided on an ad hoc basis. For example, it has taken over 30 years to begin relocating Newtok and more than 20 years for Isle de Jean Charles, in part because no federal entity has the authority to coordinate assistance, according to stakeholders in Alaska and Louisiana. These and other communities will rely on post-disaster assistance if no action is taken beforehand—this increases federal fiscal exposure. Risk management best practices and GAO's 2019 Disaster Resilience Framework suggest that federal agencies should manage such risks before a disaster hits. A well-designed climate migration pilot program that is based on project management best practices could improve federal institutional capability. For example, the interagency National Mitigation Investment Strategy—the national strategy to improve resilience to disasters—recommends that federal agencies use pilot programs to demonstrate the value of resilience projects. As GAO reported in October 2019, a strategic and iterative risk-informed approach for identifying and prioritizing climate resilience projects could help target federal resources to the nation's most significant climate risks. A climate migration pilot program could be a key part of this approach, enhancing the nation's climate resilience and reducing federal fiscal exposure. According to the 13-agency United States Global Change Research Program, relocation due to climate change will be unavoidable in some coastal areas in all but the very lowest sea level rise projections. One way to reduce the risks to these communities is to improve their climate resilience by planning and preparing for potential hazards related to climate change such as sea level rise. Climate migration—the preemptive movement of people and property away from areas experiencing severe impacts—is one way to improve climate resilience. GAO was asked to review federal support for climate migration. This report examines (1) the use of climate migration as a resilience strategy; (2) federal support for climate migration; and (3) key challenges to climate migration and how the federal government can address them. GAO conducted a literature review of over 52 sources and interviewed 12 climate resilience experts. In addition, GAO selected and interviewed 46 stakeholders in four communities that have considered relocation: Newtok, Alaska; Santa Rosa, California; Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana; and Smith Island, Maryland. Congress should consider establishing a pilot program with clear federal leadership to identify and provide assistance to communities that express affirmative interest in relocation as a resilience strategy. The Departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development provided technical comments that GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Alfredo Gómez at (202) 512-3841 or gomezj@gao.gov.
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