Last Friday I hosted the Administration’s fifth meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation Group (SCG) in Washington, with my co-chair, Director General Eugenio Imaz of Mexico’s Center for Investigation and National Security. Eleven U.S. departments and agencies met with their Mexican counterparts to discuss bilateral security progress and challenges.
The SCG is our primary forum for senior policy makers to devise strategies to combat the security threats we both face in an open and honest manner. Our joint approach is based on the principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect for sovereignty, jurisdiction and the legislation of both countries.
At today’s meeting we reviewed the significant progress our countries have made over the past year, including advances in the Merida Initiative, Mexico’s ongoing transition to the accusatorial judicial system, and joint efforts to weaken the criminal networks that operate with no regard for our people or our laws and often exploit vulnerable populations, including unaccompanied children.
We pledged to continue holding this vital forum to coordinate security programming, including in important areas such as:
Friday’s meeting also builds off of last week’s U.S.-Mexico Executive Steering Committee (ESC) Meeting on the 21st Century Border. The ESC agreed to key priorities for 2017, including facilitating trade through cargo pre-inspection, increasing lawful cross-border travel under our trusted traveler programs, and collaborating on border infrastructure prioritization. In addition to the ESC, principals met for the first-ever Border Infrastructure Leadership Small Group meeting to discuss aligning our border infrastructure prioritization processes, fulfilling a commitment made by the two Presidents during their July meeting.
As I noted in my post on the U.S.-Northern Triangle High Level Dialogue recently, security and prosperity in Latin American is critical to our own border safety and national security. The threats from organized crime know no borders and our bilateral relationship with Mexico is essential to staying ahead of the criminals who traffic in arms, drugs, and humans. U.S. cooperation with Mexico across our 2,000 mile border is stronger than ever, and we must continue our engagement, focus, and hard work needed to ensure a prosperous future for all of our people.
Amy Pope is Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President at the National Security Council