BOGOTA – Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas visited Colombia’s capital Bogotá from December 8th through 10th to meet with senior government counterparts and build on the momentum started at the Summit of the Americas in June where the United States led efforts for a hemispheric approach to reducing irregular migration, and 20 countries signed the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. During the visit, the Secretary and DHS officials, alongside colleagues from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá led by Chargé D’Affaires Francisco Palmieri, participated in a series of bilateral meetings that included President of Colombia Gustavo Petro, Interior Minister Alfonso Prada Gil, Defense Minister Iván Velasquez Gomez, Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán and Vice Ministers including Laura Gil Savastano, Director of Migration Carlos Fernando Garcia Manosalva, and Colombian Ambassador to the United States Luis Gilberto Murillo Urrutia, among others.
During the bilateral sessions, the Government of Colombia expressed their interest in continuing to take a leadership role in the region and convening regional actors to move forward on efforts to reduce irregular migration, which Secretary Mayorkas affirmatively welcomed in the spirit of the Los Angeles Declaration. The Secretary affirmed that transnational crime and irregular migration are challenges that are not exclusive to the United States or Colombia. He asserted that these challenges demand a hemispheric solution, echoing the Los Angeles Declaration’s call for creating conditions for safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration and a strengthening of frameworks for international protection and cooperation. The Secretary noted that the United States will continue to respect the dignity of migrants, even as we stress the importance of ensuring that the laws of our respective countries are followed; and he emphasized that the United States will continue to enforce its immigration laws. Secretary Mayorkas also praised the Government of Colombia’s continued commitment to embracing and integrating more than 2.4 million Venezuelans who have fled a repressive regime and economic collapse in their home country. The delegations agreed on the importance of addressing root causes of irregular migration including the lack of regional security, citizen security, and economic opportunity.
The Secretary and his delegation also visited a Migration Integration Center run by the City of Bogotá, with support from the Government of Colombia’s migration office, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United States Agency for International Development, where migrants are able to register for a Temporary Protection Permit and understand the processes and benefits available to them in their transition, with a focus on ensuring access to social welfare, healthcare, education, and economic opportunities.
At the U.S. Embassy, the Secretary also met with DHS colleagues based in Bogotá, whose investigative and law enforcement efforts are helping address critical regional security challenges.
The Secretary’s visit follows an announcement by the U.S. Government in September of nearly $376 million in new humanitarian assistance to help respond to the Venezuela regional crisis. This funding includes more than $194 million through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and more than $181 million through the U.S. Department of State. This additional funding builds on nearly $314 million announced for the Venezuela regional response in June at the Summit of the Americas, including nearly $103 million through the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). This latest funding brings total U.S. humanitarian assistance for the response to the Venezuela regional crisis to over 2.3 billion since 2017, including more than $1.3 billion through USAID and over $1 billion through PRM.