MEXICO CITY–U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano Tuesday joined with Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont to sign two arrangements to bolster aviation and border security between the United States and Mexico at the Mérida U.S.-Mexico High Level Consultative Group meeting—further expanding ongoing cooperative efforts to crack down on violent drug cartels and combat terrorism while facilitating the secure and efficient flow of legitimate travel and trade.
“Our close relationship with the Mexican government continues to grow stronger as we work together to find new ways to crack down on violent drug cartels and combat terrorism,” said Secretary Napolitano. “The arrangements signed today further increase the capabilities of the United States and Mexico to protect both sides of the border from transnational criminals and terrorists that threaten the safety of both of our nations.”
The first arrangement formally establishes the Joint Security Program for Travelers (JSP), which enhances information sharing and best practices between the United States and Mexico regarding the identification of potential terrorists or other dangerous criminals traveling by air through Mexico City International Airport and builds a foundation for future JSP expansion to additional Mexican airports—bolstering both nations’ abilities to thwart acts of terrorism and protect against travel document fraud.
The second arrangement, signed with both Secretary Gómez-Mont and Secretary of Public Safety Genaro García Luna, will enable DHS to electronically share some criminal history information with Mexican law enforcement about Mexican nationals who are being repatriated from the United States and who have been convicted of certain felonies in the United States—providing the seamless transmission of vital security information in order to ensure the safety and security of citizens of both countries.
The agreements signed Tuesday build on numerous bilateral agreements and declarations of cooperation between Secretary Napolitano and her Mexican counterparts over the past year:
·In June 2009, Secretary Napolitano and former Mexican Secretary of Finance Agustín Carstens signed a Letter of Intent to provide further cooperation in the areas of enforcement, planning, and trade facilitation along the Southwest border.
·In September 2009, the United States and Mexico signed a bilateral agreement initiating a new cross-border communications network for public safety and law enforcement organizations to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border by allowing participating federal, state, local and tribal public safety organizations to coordinate incident response.
·In November 2009, DHS officials met with their counterparts from the Mexican Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) to outline joint initiatives to combat transnational crime, increase law enforcement collaboration and increase the secure flow of travel and trade along the U.S.-Mexico border. During the meeting, U.S. and Mexican officials agreed to formalize the Bi-national Port Security Committee to improve open and regular communication along the Southwest border—a significant step toward deterring violence at and near land ports of entry. These committees will address cross-border operational, safety and security issues.
· In December 2009, Secretary Napolitano and former Minister Carstens signed an updated and enhanced Declaration of Principles to create a joint U.S.-Mexico framework to improve security along the Southwest border and facilitate the flow of legitimate travel and trade.
· In February 2010, Secretary Napolitano and Mexican Secretary of Public Safety (SSP) Genaro García Luna signed a Declaration of Principles of Cooperation on joint efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and share information about transnational threats while streamlining legitimate travel and trade. This declaration will allow the United States and Mexico to build on past and current efforts by promoting law enforcement information and intelligence sharing; the development of common priorities; the production of joint strategic plans; and joint operations—while respecting each nation’s sovereignty, jurisdictions and authorities.
·In February 2010, Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Gómez-Mont signed a letter of intent to coordinate closely on a number of mutual aviation security initiatives—including deploying enhanced airport screening technologies, strengthening passenger information sharing, and ensuring passengers have proper travel documents. They also signed a communications protocol that outlined procedures for sharing and coordinating the release of public information in crisis events.
In addition, Secretary Napolitano traveled to Mexico City in February at Secretary Gómez-Mont’s invitation to meet with officials from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama and the International Civil Aviation Organization to discuss ways to bolster global aviation security measures and standards.
The meeting resulted in a joint declaration on a way forward to strengthen the international civil aviation system through enhanced information collection and sharing, cooperation on technological development, and modernized aviation security standards.
Secretary Napolitano was in Mexico City as part of the U.S. delegation to the Mérida U.S.-Mexico High Level Consultative Group meeting today.