tv Bipartisan Policy Center Discussion on Migration Challenges CSPAN July 26, 2019 11:01pm-12:28am EDT
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center, this portion of the discussion is about an hour and 25 minutes. >> what is the role of dhs and how do they navigate? part of the government has relations with other nations in their area of agreement. when i was at dhs, i was an anti-shake in canada -- attache in canada. agreements are made with countries along the way. former secretary nielsen was in
the process of negotiating security cooperation agreements with northern triangle countries before she departed. the acting secretary is continuing that. they are trying to see what level of cooperation, primarily on for security with mexico and guatemala, can the u.s. or dhs offer them technical assistance and support in understanding how best to secure the borders and also how to improve their immigration institutions? that's another thing that dhs has expertise that they offer to other countries and was working on. and last but not least, going after criminal and smuggling elements that are facilitating the migration. so that's sort of the realm they are working on. and it does seem sort of contrary to sort of the way the president is conducting diplomacy via tweet, but a lot of this is ongoing series of meetings. so just yesterday, the security
ministers, interior ministers of all three northern triangle countries were meeting with secretary mcleanen to talk about these things and apparently had a fairly productive meeting. but those are ongoing and i think longer term negotiations, it's not the kind of things that the president is looking to shut off the migrant flow, if you will. what he is trying to do, i don't think it is clear that he is looking for a safe third, i don't think he cares if it's safe. he's looking for a country of first entry agreement. and from what we understand of the negotiations with jimmy morales, the president of guatemala, it was about guatemala accepting back anybody who had travelled through guatemala to get to the united states. it doesn't require guatemala to take applications for asylum it ishem or process them, more one way.
it's more akin to possibly what the eu is trying to do with turkey. right? like you keep everybody there and don't let them into our territory, and similar i think that's what they were talking about in mexico. that's different from the safe third country agreement we have with canada, which is reciprocal , and it is saying we think each other's systems are relatively equivalent in terms of granting asylum and protection to people, and therefore if you are coming from one country to the other and asking for asylum, we're going to send you back and say go apply there. it works both ways although the majority of the travel is going north, so canada sends more people back to the united states than the other way around. theoretically it's reciprocal. that doesn't seem to be what we're talking about. >> it's a perfect transition to the ambassador appeared -- the ambassador. not to just sort of go down the line here, but you know, you're someone who has been in the room for these negotiations and relatively recently. i mean, at the beginning of the trump administration. and so i would ask you, what advice do you have for guatemala and other countries within central america right now.
obviously, mexico is in a very different position than guatemala. but what advice do you have for them right now if they are sort of in the midst of these negotiations with the u.s. about potentially taking on what could be a very large burden and may not, maybe not having the systems to accommodate it? >> yeah, well, precisely given that those negotiations are still very fresh, i won't go into too much detail, but i'll say whatever i can. mexico has always, you know, tried to convince the united states that we should approach immigration in general as a shared responsibility, from a shared responsibility to perspective. and that beyond the narrative implies, i think, two or three things that are important. and i'm not anybody to recommend any government anything, but i do believe from our own experience, that shared responsibility, trying to push to that concept is important. and that implies basically,
number one, you know, that first, it's impossible to solve anything unless the sites really work together. and to be perfectly honest, i think that some people worldwide simply as a, as you know, a human right and some others see it as a problem and as a challenge and we're never going to have the same vision. i think we have to recognize that. so every solution is going to be imperfect and not going to leave all sides happy. i think that needs to be recognized. and i think that's precisely about, you know, approaching as a shared responsibility. it implies, i think, that the countries from which the immigration is coming should do its utmost to make sure that people are not forcing to live in their countries. and that is simply not happening , or at least not to the level necessary in the northern
triangle countries, and i think that's something that is broadly recognized. that these countries do have socioeconomic challenges that are not being met and therefore, a lot of people are being forced to leave. and that's not on the united states. that should be whether it's on mexico or in central america. those countries, our own countries should do its utmost to make sure the migration is not a forced decision and that's not happening to the extent that it should. >> right. >> and at the same time, that's the second part of the equation is the united states in my view, and respectfully, should recognize that there is a growing demand of people to come to the united states. now, how is that done? it's simply up -- it's something that the united states should decide by itself according to its own legal system, democratic process and the like, but until that is also recognized here , which is not always fully recognized, we have a problem.
in the case of central america, what we see and at least what people are talking about, around 80% of the people that are coming to the southern border, would meet or actually meet the credible fear interview requirements, but that the vast majority of these people that meet those requirements then don't really meet the requirements for being offered asylum fully. and i'm quoting figures. i'm not saying i'm validating. and that, you know, it's also important to recognize that a big chunk of the people that are coming here from central america are coming here because of socioeconomic conditions, which it's not evident that would have them meet the asylum requirement. so, we need to open avenues. we, the region needs to open avenues. i think there's two things and i'll stop there, two things, one is to find some sort of solution, regional solution,
whether it's a third safe country or whatever you want to name it, but a reasonable solution in which the countries that are involved agree that they're going to have a common approach to dealing with people that are truly seeking asylum because they are fleeing for their life or whatever. that is not there. and we need to work on it. and i think it's crucial that that happens. i cannot believe that the united states government, or the united states does not want to, you know, continue with its tradition of offering people that are fleeing from violence, persecution, attempts in their country. i'm not sure, but i hope not. but the point is, but i also believe that there are people that don't want to have their own asylum system abused, quote, unquote. there needs to be a solution and that solution needs to be regional. on the other side, i think it's
in the benefit of central america and mexico and the united states and everybody to sit down calmly and say, ok, what is the level of movement of people we want between our countries? are the legal avenues to do so sufficient and efficient enough so people can actually choose a legal avenue? i think we need to have a serious discussion about that , and since the last 50 years, -- last 15 years, i've heard, you know, let's get border security first. >> right. >> well, we've been working on border security for the past 15 years. and at least since 9/11 from remember, very seriously at least with respect to mexico. when people talk about border security here, what exactly do we mean so we can get to that point? >> i think you took one of my questions coming up, but thank you for that. less work for me, but so there's a lot to dig into there with what everyone is talking about.
but one of the things you said, i'd actually like to say to you, actually ambassador. you say some people see migration as a human right and other people see migration as a problem. there's clearly differing views between united states, mexico and the northern triangle countries, and even within those countries, attitudes towards migration as a human right versus as being a problem. you seem to suggest, ambassador, that those two sides were never really going to meet. >> i don't think they'll ever meet fully, no. >> right, so actually i want to ask you, how can you take steps to address this migration crisis, whatever you want to call it, this migration surge, this changed migration? how can you take practical steps to address that when if you're starting with the premise that those two sides are never going to meet, migration as a human right versus migration as a problem?
>> so, i think it's a really good question and i think that a lot of people here in washington and then also obviously in central america, are grappling with that right now. how do we make kind of policy solutions that can help immediately, but also give a long-term system? obviously, everybody here acknowledges that there's a regional situation, it's not a u.s.-only or a mexico-only situation, so that involves cooperation with other governments. but i do want to just kind of note this idea that a majority of people are coming because they're economic migrants, i think it's a lot more complicated than that. i think it's a lot more about issue of violence as an overwhelming factor that's intermingled with other things. we see that, you know, there's some evidence of internal displacement in all three northern triangle countries , where people will move several times before they do move north , and i think it's really important to understand that the statistics, even, about who qualifies for credible fear can move on to an asylum claim are themselves being contested.
you know, it's our belief, i think, that some of the people who may be qualified for a credible fear and then move on into the interior, if they're given the correct information about what they need to do to comply, will actually end up complying for asylum. and that has to do with, you know, talking about solutions, that has to do with looking at, you know, alternatives to detention, looking at better conditions here at the border and looking at infrastructure in mexico, you know, to address people who maybe want to stay in mexico through that journey, improving the asylum system there. i think there are a number of different solutions. on the u.s. side, i think we do have to look at what's occurring at the border, both within what is in dhs's daily capacity to improve the border processing centers. to improve the processing of families and children increasingly coming, but also to elinore's point, to work within the existing legal framework that we have both in the u.s.
legal system, but also in some of the countries here when their governments say they're not going to engage in agreements. you know, i think another thing that's really important to some of my fellow panelists have noted, kind of the inconsistency of the trump administration policy. you know, we went from hearing there could be a possible safe third country agreement or you know, return agreement as teresa pointed out, to hearing there could be tariffs or a ban, to the point of even ending remittances back to that country. guatemala relies on about 12% of their national economy is remittances, and what kind of consistent policy are we saying if we want people to stay in guatemala if we're cutting off aid and remittances? there needs to be a little bit of lifting up and seeing how things work together. aid, negotiations, and daily
remedies dhs feels that they can implement. >> feel free to jump in with each other. >> let me just dove tail on that. one of the problems -- i agree completely it's a very complex phenomenon appeared what's going -- phenomenon. what's going on and there's not a single, i don't think there is one route, one concept of what's going on and i think it's a mistake. i was recently reading an article on immigration and the other said let's be careful about single solutions to problems. i think he's right. i think the way to approach this, precisely because there are different reasons behind it, is a multi-pronged approach. that implies that we do better job of coordinating our asylum policies. that we do a better job. the whole we, i mean group of country. actually fighting human
smuggling and trafficking, i think that's absolutely necessary. and we know by fact that trafficking organizations are tricking people into taking these routes and using the asylum system, whether that's, you know, it's -- they're saying that that is going on. there's a need to have, you know, humane border security and enforcement. i think that's part of what we need to do in a way that's careful. and so, my only point is, yes, we need to work on different fronts to actually get a solution. and you think about one single point solution, let me use the word, if we think it's only going to be a wall, probably be -- i don't think that that will work. we need to work on different fronts. we need to work on the development of those countries and i think the united states is, you know, has done a lot already and we need to do even a little bit more. so it's a bunch of things that need to be put together. >> i mean, what's the saying,
for every complex problem, there is a simple solution that's wrong? [laughter] precisely, and that's one of the reasons why in our recommendations, we address it, and put it in terms of time frame. development in the northern triangle countries, and dealing with systems of corruption and crime and impunity and a pile of things that are driving migration in addition to economic issues and violence and those things is a long-term process. that's not going to be solved very quickly. it requires long-term investments and long-term cooperation and certainly the efforts of the countries themselves. they have to take responsibility there. but at the end of the day, those are the things that keep people home. but we also have to address sort of the most immediate situations at the border right now, that's what's driving sort of the energy around this right now. we have an immediate issue of,
you know, record numbers of families and children at a border, through a system that was never designed to deal with this at this volume. and when i say the system was never designed to deal with this, our asylum system was designed to do exactly what everyone is saying, which is recognize the human rights of people and give them the process to go through and discern whether they qualify under the asylum law legally. if they do, grant them protection, and and if not, remove them. we have processes dealing with unaccompanied children and people, and what we don't have is sufficient capacity to address the volume that we have right now. and we did not -- and i'm going back to when we first started seeing unaccompanied kids coming in 2013, 2014, invest in the system to address that volume. we invested in the border and trying to stop that problem. and i think that that's something we need to think seriously about and that is, you know, if the issue is, you know, how we deal with asylum and
whether we make those decisions , we have the process in place but we're not letting them work the way they were intended because the capacity issues aren't there. >> we're covering a lot of ground here and obviously, this is a complex issue that requires complex solutions. i also feel like you come to an event at a think tank in washington and you always hear, we need a comprehensive approach, right? >> you do. >> we need a comprehensive approach, this is a complex problem. we need a whole of government and need to use all the tools in the toolbox. we've heard these phrases. let's drill into some of these specifically. comprehensive does not mean solving everything at the same time. >> right you have to have priorities. >> make sure you're looking at everything that needs to be addressed and then precisely the timeline. >> right, i want to get to the solution at the border when we're talking about timeline and priorities and most people would see as the most immediate.
but let's take a step back from the border and stay in central america for just a moment. obviously, there are complex factors contributing to this dramatic shift in migration that is part of the capacity challenge at the border. we also have a situation in which the trump administration has threatened aid to central america and is even redirecting some of that money towards venezuela, for example. and what i want to ask you, and each of you, and whoever feels to weigh in on this, what are the aid solutions the support from the united states that's working in central america? what are some examples you can pull out of a successful aid program that has had an impact on migration, since especially that's how the trump administration seems to be measuring the success of foreign policy and foreign assistance? what are some examples of what works in central america? >> i can start.
there has been success with community-based programs working to reduce violence and gang violence in particular areas. there have been some programs and honduras that has been highlighted for their success. in addition, i don't know if you saw the series of articles written by jonathan blitzer for the new yorker, about programs that were helping farmers who are no longer able to grow the same crops because of climate change. these programs are helping them learn how to grow different types of products. these programs were cut in 2017 because of the trump administration policies. there are things that do work and can work over time. it requires sustained effort. we are not talking massive amounts of money. it's more targeting programs that will address the problems that are pushing people to flee,
and reinforcing that as well with targeted diplomacy, with diplomacy that is pressuring and urging these countries to combat corruption, uphold the rule of law, and address rights abuses causing people to flee. >> what you said about targeted programming is interesting because the administration's argument has been we need to make a more efficient. we need to reduce the potential corruption or inefficiencies in foreign assistance in the united states. so targeted programming seems to be what the administration is going for when they're talking about looking at programming and cutting back if they don't believe it's been effective. >> targeted in different ways. >> also in the mindset of the administration that sees a foreign assistance potential he as a negative thing and wants to see what they can exact from that assistance. >> the irony is a lot of this money was going to community
groups, going to organizations working on the front lines trying to address the problems that are leading people to flee. >> just to follow-up, the type of aid matters. a large aid package primarily for enforcement or for cooperation is not going to be able to achieve what we're hoping for when we think of aid going directly going to community organizations. examples, and eleanor did a great job, catholic relief services, then program called youth builders. they were coming to controlled communities to help build entrepreneurial skills for young people aged about 15-25. it's the program that has seen success in terms of has engagement and chose educational and employment opportunity. same thing with the farming, dealing with climate change for farmers is an important reality. another program that we need to be thinking about is run by
kind, kids in need of defense. they are doing kind of a repatriation for unaccompanied children who are returned back to guatemala, honduras or el salvador. what people don't understand is when a child or family member is returned back, many times they owe a lot of money. there is a lot of disunity in the family and sometimes the family itself has to travel a day's worth of travel on a bus to come and pick up the child at an airport. that starts the reunification of f terribly. some of these programs look to do safe and integrated repatriation that helps the child and family get back together and hopefully prevent re-migration. i think it's important to tie these and two, if that is the goal as the trump administration , to prevent people from migrating, then these are the type of programs they to be implemented to get people livelihoods, opportunity and, frankly, the ability to live in
society without violence, so we can see them not come back after they have come back several times or faced internal displacement. >> ambassador, i know you wanted to weigh in, but if i could direct us a little bit. we were talking earlier about how we started referring to the northern triangle as this unit , as if there are not key differences within el salvador, guatemala, honduras. el salvador seen some success if we are measuring success by migration as a starting point. el salvador seen some success in the reduction of those numbers at the same time as we've we seen dramatic increase from honduras and guatemala. weighing in on what we are talking about what's the , difference with el salvador? what might be potentially working there? we had the comments from the new president of el salvador after meetings with the secretary of recently whereeo he said, we want to be partners
and friends, we do not want to be an aid country anymore. i thought that was an interesting remark. >> i would say first of all, i think we must recognize that neither the united states, mexico, germany, europe or anybody is going to be able to do more for these countries than they're willing to do for themselves. i think that needs to be a principle on which we operate. i will put the example of mexico. in mexico in the year 2000, there were 1.7 million apprehensions at the united states southern border. those were not necessarily people. the same people, but it was the events. 90% of them were mexican nationals.
we are now to maybe 150,000 mexicans. there's been a clear reduction. mexico's gdp went, probably right now around $12,000, maybe $11,000. there are people that actually point to the fact that when we reach gdp around $9000, actually when migration began to curve down. to a large extent that's true. i like to think we did our homework to the best of our ability, and that helped. so no money is going to be enough. -- enough if any country is not serious about tackling its own challenges. the second thing that i would point out is that success implies necessarily that they countries take ownership of whatever aid and cooperation is there. let me point to the fact we don't have here this morning anybody from central america. they need to be owners of the programs that are working. they need to feel that these are
their programs. and we, we mean the united states, mexico, however, needs to console them thoroughly about what they see and how did they seek. i'm sure they will take the aid, and we took the aid and i would be glad to take more aid. [laughter] >> but they need to be involved very heavily involved in whatever is done. i think that's a mistake. the third thing is that focus in place two things. over diagnosing, it's over diagnosing. i think there's plenty of studies here, like every think tank has its own study on the matter. there are plenty of studies by mexican agencies, u.s. agencies. and there's a good framework. focus means i think that either in my opinion, either you focus heavily on one specific town or
region and to do everything there, or you are very specific and approach one thing, like health. let's really make a dent on health or education. nation -- iot, don't like to use this term but i going to use it anyway, am nationbuilding is a difficult thing. and within a big framework, not everybody can do -- nothing the united states, you cannot do everything. we cannot do everything. we need to focus on some things based on the true needs. one more thing. you talked about security. sometimes the united states is blamed. it's only secured. and actually of the money that goes out into these countries, a very important portion actually goes to security. not necessarily to the economic development fund. >> more than a very important point.
>> ok. and most people say oh, it's only -- i happen to differ from the approach of mexican administration is taking now. saying oh, we should only be money for development. the united states does that. in my view, because no other country is going to make cooperation for security, and that's it's needed. >> let's talk about that. cracked and people often compare >> and people often compare to what? i mean, yes, we need to be accountable. if it was my money i would like to know that it is being spent wisely. but you're always comparing to what? beenthis help had not there, things would be much worse. >> right, if the assistance wasn't there and i think that's what a lot of people think, when
you have threats to cut off the country entirely from assistance or to cut off travel entirely , the potential could be exacerbating these problems. thes bring the focus to u.s. approach to migration. for decades, not just the trump administration but predating the trump administration is enforcement first, border security first. in many ways you can sum up the democratic and republican approach since really the '90s as deterrence. i think it's fair to say that hasn't worked. and i think that was one of the interesting things that you talked about in the bipartisan policy center, in their solutions to this, the enforcement only approach hasn't worked. but you still emphasize that border security is necessary. a question that the ambassador asked that i want to ask you now, what does border security look like?
if it is not defined, how can you possibly achieve it? what is border security? >> i think this is one of the conundrums of the immigration debate writ large. everybody has sort of terminologies or catchphrases or short things that are meant to describe again a complicated thing. but border security at its core should be about securing the territory of a country from threats that come from outside the country. in this case, the can be criminal gangs, smuggling, ofrorism, any sort contraband, things that should not come into the united states that we don't want to have here. migration has been seen as a more security issue. predominately migration actually not about border security. i would argue that the with migration of the border should be about border management. i'd rather use that term than security. in part because what we need to
do is manage the arrivals, whether that's at the port of entry or in between port of entry. how do we manage that? a portion of that management is ensuring the migrants who come are not a threat, but that's one portion of it. the broader portion of managing migration at the border is what is the process to determine, are you eligible to stay or not and what do we do with that? that's about migration. it's not about more security and when we conflate the two, and you're right we've we done this since 9/11, but it's important to understand they have different functions. i think we do need to think about this more in terms of a migration management solution , and that's why i think deterrence of migration in and of itself and the idea we can keep people out or push people back or turn off a spigot somewhere and people will stop coming is just, it's not realistic. i think we need to examine the processes that we put in place for a different era when the majority were mexicans that were able to be returned very quickly. our numbers of asylum
applications at the u.s.-mexico border were very small as a percentage of the overall volume. and our asylum system is not meant for that. even the migration process for central americans who would not ask for asylum, if that's the book of people we are dealing with who can't immediately be returned to mexico, that requires an additional set of processes. our infrastructure was not built for this. obviously we see that. when families and children being held in facilities that should never hold families in facilities at all. so we need to rethink the entire way we manage the border. particularly because i think this shift is not a blip. i think this is a longer-term -- we've been dealing with this now really since 2010, you started seeing numbers coming up. it's now been a majority of central americans at the board since at least 2015 i believe. and so i think this is a longer-term trend that we need to recognize and we need to
rethink how we do a lot of that. >> briefly i want to pick on the ambassador, because it seems in some ways mexico is now adopting a similar model of enforcement first. we have the deployment, the creation of and the rapid deployment of the national guard. these images of mexican military or mexican national guard at the border stopping women and children have gotten a lot of attention within mexico. is mexico repeating the mistakes of the united states in enforcement first and deterrence approach, and with that being outsourced to mexico at the moment? >> it's a very good question. people are surprised in mexico and in the united states because of the sort of things mexico right now is doing in enforcement. we got to this point in my view
because we did not, being auto critical, previous administrations, including the ones i served, we did not do a good job in strengthening our own immigration systems and institutions. if we have the national guard now doing or co-working with immigration authorities in mexico, it's simply because we did not really, i think, and again we are to blame about, we were not serious enough about improving and modernizing our own immigration institutions, like our own refugee agency. that's why we are here because --denly the numbers became
[indiscernible] by which we manage immigration regionally has simply changed. it changed i think in 2000. it changed a bit in 2001 after 9/11, and then again i think in 2013-2014 because of the unaccompanied minors situation. we need to find something else and we did not i think did a good job in looking at those things. so people are rightly concerned that the mexican national guard is enforcing immigration, and i am concerned too, but we have no other option. >> no other option? >> i am serious in the sense that that simply the number of agents that we have, our own migration stations, with our own immigration agency, refugee
agency has a budget of $1 million. that's a joke. if we don't want this situation, and we don't, then we need a systematic effort to get, to whatever needs to be done, do with the appropriate authorities and do in way that is humane and absolutely respectful of human rights. the fact that the national guard is currently doing that does not imply in any way acceptance to any violation of human rights. that's number one. but we got to the situation because our agents are simply not enough. >> you seem like you wanted to weigh in. >> both for the mexico and united states, it is a moment of decision. to both of your points, the status quo has changed. this idea deterrence and enforcement only, it is not working. not only that, but it's not representative for the
at the border, which is primarily women, children, families. government need to employ a more multidisciplinary approach. i mean, so the images and the stories of what we heard in clint, the cdc processing facility for unaccompanied children. as a service provider for a company children, i guess the question is why are not hhs and dhs working better together ? so that board patrol can comply with our existing laws which beccompanied children cannot at a port of call longer than 72 hours? mexico needs to take the lesson of the united states and the fact that frankly, children are dying. we need to be doing better from humanitarian plans, you know, i
can still do enforcement to kind of, since any moment to reform your system, to include these and others because we're in a system where that's a big concern. we have law enforcement for what is in some ways a humanitarian response that is needed, at least to up move along into the larger kind of asylum system and also into the larger goals of either removal, or ultimately integration and citizenship. >> great response. >> i agree completely. one point is we did not see mexico's transition from being mainly a country of immigrants into the united states to largely a transit or destiny country. we did not adjust our immigration system. so we were focusing our immigration authority, nami is largely centered on stamping a passport, and getting the people u.s.,ere turned from the mexican nationals returning.
we cannot be satisfied with what is going on. i'm sure all of you saw the picture of the father and the --ughter face down in the rio nobody in the u.s. or mexico can be satisfied with what is going on based upon that. but i think the only point i'm going to say is what is going on hopefully is a wake-up call and say we need to put much more money into our immigration system. one of the points i think i've made before even when i was ambassador, when you get police sort of, any sort of police authorities involved in immigration, people are very scared and rightfully so. but my point was always, the fact that what is going on right now puts a lot of light into it. because previously we just had a lot of people going through mexico with nobody, not much attention, because nobody was
involved. in my view, that's a worse situation. if were going to have, if we have national guard involved and we have -- let's get side-by-side ngos that are looking at what's going on, that are helping make it humane. situation, thes positive side, is it will put some light onto what is going on. >> i want to get to eleanor, sort of stuck on the sidelines for a minute. >> on the u.s. side, it's similar to mexico obviously. but i thought what you brought brought -- what you brought up is basically law enforcement responding to what is largely a humanitarian situation at the border. but my question is since this startingn, this shift in 2010, the trump administration really trumpeted
, the 50 year lows in apprehensions, i think we can see that largely as a blip appeared -- a blip. should the u.s. have seen this coming? we have law enforcement addressing humanitarian situation but is this a question of capacity or is it a question of political will to respond to the situation there really origins almost a decade ago no? >> i think it's a question of the will but also question of you have got the wrong actors upfront respond to what is essentially a refugee and humanitarian situation. you got the department of homeland security using tools that are mentioned for immigration enforcement. you've got -- >> is a major overhaul, what does it take for that approach? physicians, pediatricians,
lawyers working with people at the very front end. there needs to be humanitarian aid agencies. shoulders along the border, many faith-based groups helping, but they are only coming in after the process has gotten started. there is a lot more that can happen. plus a lot of these logjams were seeing at the border are because of trump administration policy. you see these pictures in el paso of all these people waiting to be moved supposedly to immigration detention centers. in part, they are not being moved to immigration detention centers because the president said we're not going to release people who are eligible for release under existing bond in and parole standards. el paso is one of the areas that notoriously had the lowest release rate. you need a total overhaul of your policies to be responding to people are seeking refuge in seeking asylum. the other point teresa raised earlier was the immigration
adjudication system. we work with lawyers around the country representing people who seek asylum before our asylum offices and also in immigration court. we've been pushing since 2013 or so both with the obama administration as well as currently, and with congress, for increases in asylum officers and increases in immigration judges. we need many more adjudicators. the adjudication system has been woefully underfunded in comparison to immigration enforcement systems, which have received massive infusions of my oney over time. it's not just our system does not have the capacity to adjudicate the cases for it, but it's not just we need more immigration judges. interpreters, giving people recordings of information is not the way to actually have a fair system. and under the trump administration, the entire adjudication system has been compromised. we have agency leaders, political appointees who are saying day in and a out to the
agencies that they oversee, to the people who are adjudicating these cases, the cases pending before them are lacking in merit. we are seeing change after change in the immigration court that has added to the immigration court backlog. the martial project did an extensive study showing a lot of the changes the trump administration has made have actually made the backlog worse and lengthened the amount of time it's going to take people to get to the system. we also need real case management. sorry. [laughter] >> clearly there is a lot needed. we have only a few minutes left. 30 secondget responses from everybody about whether this is a question of capacity or political well, and what steps can me taken now within a system that is law enforcement first, what steps can be taken now to address the humanitarian situation at the border? thatt me try to address
real quick. first, read the report. eleanor and others have their own recommendations. you will find there is some overlap. but i think what we try to get at is let's get to solutions. first and foremost, i think the most immediate thing that can be ashley mentioned, is we haven't had the type of intergovernmental coordination among the agencies to address this. you have cbp .2 ice and ice dancing with capacity or hhs think we have that and bp says you don't have beds. if this were a hurricane or a flood or an earthquake, we would have a major massive whole of government response with a single battle coordinator who can coordinate with all of the federal agency.
you doing this and you are doing this and you are responsible for this. i was state and local entities because we are seeing and hearing from the localities where this is happening that they're being inundated, the ngos, the government is not accepting assistance for medical care or anything else like that. in part a question whether you have the authority to do so. we've been talked about the of an immigration fema. why are we not doing that? that's anything we could speed -- >> i'm going to pause so we gave everyone the last thought. ambassador, a few examples that invention in which the trumpet message approach is making things worse when it comes to situation with metering, the a situation with metering, the remain in mexico program. what should mexico be doing, what is mexico's role in these unilateral policies that are being implement it at a potentially making the situation worse both for mexico and the u.s.? >> first of all, i'm against unilateral actions because as a i said, a complex issue that needs everybody to work together. many different countries. i think mexico should, a, strengthen its own asylum and refugee system so it's in a far better condition to offer
refugee status to the people that go through mexico and are requesting the refugee status. whether the initial plan is go to the united states or mexico. but i think we need to improve far better our capacity, which is absolutely, has been absolutely serviced. the second thing we need to do is establish some shared criteria and hopefully share the challenge with the united states and other countries. that people are going through the region, central america through mexico to the united states, seeking refugee. there is a regional response to offer the best conditions. mind you, that might imply that they are not going to end up where they wish they end up. and that's a very important thing. but i think it's necessary. >> ashley, what steps can be
taken immediately? >> i'm going to focus on the family's arriving, because that's the population we serve at the border. the department of homeland security at implemented during the last administration an alternative for families called the family case management program. it worked in five different cities, a small pilot program. it was canceled in june 2017. we don't have the type of statistics, good or bad, we would like. as a taxpayer, people should be upset we were not able to see this moving forward. the department of homeland security has the ability to implement this program immediately. they also can implement more alternatives to detention. there's a backgrounder to talk about in more detail because i i know we are tight on time, but this is something that could help with families. it could ensure that they are complying with the immigration proceedings. it wouldn't add to the cost to the taxpayer for immigrant detention, and it is a humane
system in terms of definitely preferential to putting children in detention. this could be done today. that's my quick fix. >> we are going to open it up to questions. i will be as aggressive with you as a was with our panel here , but please try to stick to a specific question and we will open it up. do we have mic runners? i think this is the first hand i saw here. >> as the discussion went through, one of the things i found lacking in the comments was the reality of foreign policy that the u.s. has in the region, right? we speak about as if the countries are completely sovereign and they come equal to that in the people are just fleeing because of the violence. ambassador, you said countries have talked together about how
much people they should absorb. so how much should they absorb like of the bad gun policy that puts 50% of the guns in mexico legally from the u.s. ? how much should they absorb from central america because of the policies of the red scare of the '80s which created a massive flow? >> what's the question? >> the question is how do we really change the dialogue and include u.s. foreign policy and its interests so that as we are talking about how we fix it and understand that u.s. has responsibility to that? we should absorb and we should give them more aid because we actually are causing some of these things. >> so how do you incorporate u.s. foreign policy as a cause or one of the factors contributing to some of these problems, historically, as well as incorporate it in some of the solutions? is that right? >> very briefly, there's a book
called the evolution of corporation by optical david axelrod which explains how people end up incorporating with other countries. basically it is tit-for-tat. if you have a repetitive case and you do tit-for-tat, you get to the point that two was complicit, mexico and the united states, tit-for-tat. you involve mexican and central american diplomacy. meaning we need to sit together and say this is what the united states wants, this is what central america wants, ok let's take a step, build confidence, , until you getep to where you are working together far better than what we are doing. i think that's the only way. because the interests, and i don't want to be, you know,
negative about it, but the interest of companies don't necessarily -- interest of countries don't necessarily align always and therefore you need to work on things that will allow you to work on cooperation. >> when it comes to foreign policy i tend to be a realist . and this is especially relevant when you think about what happened with guatemala. whenever you talk about interest between countries and negotiations, there has to be an understanding of the political reality within that country, and the political reality in that country that allows a leader to engage in that form of diplomacy . in guatemala, the united states was negotiating with the president who was probably outgoing, in the middle of an election, who do not have the support of the majority of the country. what did they do? they went to court to sue to
keep them from finding an agreement that guatemala didn't want. that is a domestic political situation in guatemala but a significant impact on the united states to actually get an , agreement that they kind of ignored. when you have countries coming together it would be really nice if we could think about foreign policy as as a matter of shared responsibility or obligation. that is wonderful. but i tend to believe in the limited foreign policy i been engaged in, it tends to come come down to exactly what is each country's national interest, where those online, or where you can exchange interests , you can get agreement. -- in both one-sided countries have to come to the table with a demand as well as an offer, i think. >> certain principles that should, just make it clear what i said earlier, basic human rights are not subject to negotiation. beyond that, you need to try to get cooperation because recognizing the interest of the
country's good >> -- the countries. >> but the other thing i would say is that the history between the countries definitely impacts the interactions. >> i think that is a fundamental part of the question we have not addressed yet. are the current negotiations and current debate around migration and approach to central american migration in particular is part , of the reason we can't get to the heart of the issue is because we are ignoring the role the u.s. has played in el salvador, for example, or in the civil wars of the '90s of the interference of the northern triangle, ofrthern removing gains from the united states that did not exist in el salvador and now they do because of the deportation policy. diplomacy is shortsighted and transactional, and if we don't take a longer view and if we don't look to uphold human rights through our diplomacy,
through our foreign policy, then we will continue to see the same problems we have had appeared -- have had. things are getting worse and worse. we talk about a blip, we also have nicaragua and venezuela. there are people, more people who are fleeing great need of protection, and if the u.s. doesn't start protection -- promoting protection of human rights of refugees and the human rights of people living in their own country, it's in her own self-interest to be upholding human rights. >> venezuela being the far and away the top nationality is a perfect example. >> but at the same time we saw the announcement that it is unlikely they will be issuing designation for venezuela. we do see that as we begin the panel, inconsistency in policy towards this country as well. it's receiving a that was directed towards other northern triangle countries, but at the
same time, while it is so dangerous, we are not considering a designation. interestingly enough, the bill promoting tps in the house passed yesterday. we will see that. i know senator rubio has been involved on the senate side. it will be interesting to see how certain foreign policymakers in the senate balance the call for increased protection for venezuelans here with the foreign policy demands i think of the trump administration. >> or whether that bill even gets a vote. i think you are next. i'll be faster about this. >> thank you. i'm affiliated with a number of human rights advocacy organizations. quality conversation, thank you. one quick suggestion. i suggest when you have a panel on central america, probably good to have an member of the
panel from central america. my question is mostly for you, mostly with the catholic bishops organizations. in the face of what's happening at the border and the current policies leaving a lot of horrible consequences, kids in cages and kids are dying, the treatment i know some people refer to them as concentration camps. that's probably taken to the extreme, but it reflects the frustration people have so i'm wondering why isn't the religious community played a more vigorous leading role in advocating for fairness or better implementation why is the evangelical committee and other christian organizations looking the other way? >> first off, i think your point is well taken. i think it's really important to understand
what religious communities are doing right now. there were some over 70 people were arrested in civil disobedience last week for catholic action. several bishops were in support of that. a number of entities at the border are shelter providers in el paso and rio grande valley are catholic entities. they work with border patrol also kind to say this is i think it's a our humanitarian work. i think it's a really difficult time to move forward on some of this. there is i think increasing difficulty when we hear things we will do some processing for central americans when we see at the same time they're going to slash refugee resettlement. a lot of voices are trying to engage the administration on this particularly when you think about some of the humanitarian issues that you've talked about. there's a difference of opinion. i can't speak for the
evangelical faith. i know the bishops are united on this issue and issued another statement and actions an actual last summer we were to reunite the families in partnership with the trump administration. not an agreement on a policy of family separation because it's the right thing to do. that being said, i think a lot of more voices need to come to the table in coordination. i agree with your point about that. not to speak just about the fairness and humanity and the human dignity elements but also some of the other larger policy and historical implications. it's an ongoing struggle but i appreciate and will take back that we need to do more. >> the question is interesting particularly given the rise of evangelism in the northern triangle, and the ties and -- prominence of evangelicalism within the administration so it's really interesting question.
>> the salvadoran bishop have been particularly forceful. they came last year to advocate for tps for el salvador and he went to congress. more portly -- they -- they held three importantly massive and , committed committee engagement sessions. then last week archbishop of el salvador in response to the salvadoran father and his daughter who were found in the horrific accident wrote a letter that he read at the church, every church in el salvador talking about the tragedy and encouraging salvadorans here and in their migration to move forward. but it is an ongoing struggle to keep the human dignity center on this issue. >> why don't we take one from this side. more hands over there. >> this is a very interesting discussion, but to me it didn't focus on a very central element. i love your idea of fema for
immigration and it would not work, because cruelty is the point at this point. and also there's a lot of money to be made any caging these children, et cetera. and so you can have all the conversations you want between these agencies when cruelty is the point. it's not going to help. my question is how do you address this? >> which aspect? >> that cruelty is the point of profit-making is the point. >> i, i try not, it's very challenging for me sometimes to try to ascribe particular motives to the administration i know a lot of people like to do that. i'm trying to look at it from a pragmatic and practical standpoint. i agree that are differences of opinion within the administration about the effectiveness of policies in trying to deal with it. i do not
, as somebody who worked at dhs under both democratic and republican administration that that is what they believe their mission to be overall. i think also that, you mention the moneymaking has to do with w -- who is owning the detention centers. i just want to clarify, cbp facilities are all government owned facilities. there is no private ownership of cbp facilities, whether this border patrol ports of entry. most ports of entry on five gsa and operate by cbp. border patrol stations are cbp own so there's no private money in those stations. i.c.e. does contract with private detention centers. hhs contracts most with nonprofits to run most of the shelters. there are some for-profit entities in parts of
it. most of the images that have been shown on tv recently, particularly clint, particularly ursula and mcallen, those are cbp facilities. those are not privately owned detention centers. those are cbp processing facilities at the border. so, just in terms of who is making money i wanted to , emphasize that particular piece of it. >> i'm just going to say whether you can ascribe motives or not, it's clear that this administration knows for how dangerous many of the areas on the mexican side of the border are, that they are turning people back to. people from el salvador, from guatemala, from honduras, from venezuela, from cuba are being dumped back, delivered back to dangerous areas where they are now forced to remain for many, many, many months. people have been people -- and rapes people have been , assaulted. people have been kidnapped. people been put into
sexual slavery. the reports that are coming out of the things that are happening to people, which are entirely predictable, entirely predictable, , the administration, department of homeland security to know full well what the conditions are in these areas. so you can say may may be cruelty is not the but point, cruelty is certainly acknowledged and predictable consequence of what's happening. in terms of the private detention center i will say dhs oig has identified many, many problems immigration detention centers, and it's been such a massive expansion of immigration detention precisely because private contractors can just open the systems and rights are easily. i think we should >> give impassioned a chance to -- give the ambassador a chance to weigh in.
are these cities, mexican border cities that asylum asylum-seekers primarily are being pushed back into under and remain in mexico, are they safe enough? are they consider safe enough to not come for the administration cannot be violating the principle and the law of non--- by pushing non-refoulment, by pushing migrants back into those cities? >> it's a tough question, because we obviously have -- i'm just trying to be objective about a difficult subject. it would be absurd not to recognize that there are areas in mexico which very specific in which we have security problems. a, to some extent that is true. the problem i think is that we, two more things i say is, what's the solution, see it from mexican perspective, okay? in mexico people are very concerned about what is going on, and actually blaming the amlo administration for what's going on because the mexican government appears at least to be contradicting itself
from what you know, during the , campaign was said. that's what is really going on. and i see a lot of people, analysts, public opinion leaders, concerned about what the mexican government is doing. there's ground to be concerned. but what is the solution and who is -- on the mexican side offering a solution? i don't see too many people saying in mexico oh, this is terrible, let's just allow these people to go through and it's the fault of, it's the u.s. problem. i don't see too many people advocating for that openly. and if they do they would make, in my view, to accept whatever consequences come out of that to mexico. i don't see either too many people saying let's catch, let's offer humanely and appropriately status of refugees to all this people. we can't handle 100,000
people. and we certainly cannot handle 100,000 plus people. so it's very simply, it's easy to point to this is terrible. what's the solution? should be go to the united states and tell them, there they go, i'm letting them through. i'm just giving notice. what's the solution, right next certainly it -- [laughing] what is going on in the united states. what i'm saying is, a, we certainly need to have far better conditions to offer appropriate refugee, and we need to come up with some sort social of the united states and the central americans. now, one more point which i think it is important. on that discussion there has been people would say some ngos would rightly say mexico is not a safe country. i think there's a clear cut about
what does it imply to be a safe third country. dodoes not imply that you not have crime. we are safer than detroit, right? what i'm just saying is if you look at very specific statistics including some border cities in mexico the percentage, the number of violent homicides per 100,000 is lower than several cities in the u.s. so what does that exactly imply? and then if we feel uncomfortable about the fact that people are just going, that they're they are being dumped or returned to mexico at the border, but it was okay when nobody notices and then they would just go through. it was worse because nobody was paying attention, and at the time there were still rapes and still kidnappings and still problems and people were being -- lets the objective about. i probably one of the few people that if
set in mexico openly, let's think carefully about what those mean and are the benefits? part of the benefits are the right of -- that right now people who remain in mexico are right now in only in a few border cities rather than let's make sure that they are distributed to the country in safer place. i don't think there's been a serious enough debate about what that implies. united states, what i think -- i think the united states, what they would be willing to help mexico with? and its a better scenario than the we have right now. i'm not one sure, i'm not sure the debate has been as careful and thorough because a highly politicized and sensitive environment. when you see the pictures, and i agree -- >> if i can jump in, one of the, i mean, as i said earlier i , don't want toescribe my motivations to the policy but i would note the effects whether , or not it was the point. and i think, to remain in mexico is an interesting case because it was
done unilaterally and forth -- forced mexico to respond in -- and there unilateral response was okay, we didn't agree to this but we will agree to let it happen,, basically, which is kind of an odd way to deal with it. but absent an actual bilateral agreement mexico has no demand of the united states. well, if you are going to send people back, then send us assistance to help with them, to give them safety, to help our governmental institution deal it -- deal with it. and of the benefits of having an agreement, whether it's a safe agreement or another would be mexico could come with that demand to say okay, if we agree we're going to take people back whether they're crossing the united states, one of the demand -- demands is that you will assist us in that process and you will give us support in doing that. and the way this came about -- it didn't happen. [talking over each other] yuan >> u.n. chr -- you and chr
not calling openly and vividly. 300,000 people are leaving central america. that is a big number. should we have more involvement of you and chr, and say countries get your act together and do something? >> i thought you would talk about the npp, the migration protection particle, so the site is one whose franca at this time bearing the brunt on the mexico side. -- frankly -- way the more developed and catholic other societal protection u.s. but as this policy, it was implemented here on the 18th of july we are seeing the numbers go down on u.s. side but what's happening , in mexico is a small infrastructure to handle it. the lower number of shelters the , lack of legal capacity is starting to grate a real problem. if there is any sort of agreement, not that i nestled -- necessarily agree, this point about aid and looking at how to
handle it needs to be addressed because on the mexican side civil society is increasingly being attacked. they do have the infrastructure that we have and the u.s. side and there are due process concerns and is not going to go -- taxed. they do not have the infrastructure that we have and the u.s. side -- on the upside, and their due process concerns that are not going to go away. let's try to take to make more questions if you can't which means we have to talk less among ourselves. are nine consular offices, why can't they conduct interviews? location wise, mexico and best cities -- embassies. 70 wants to come from tijuana has to go south first? why can't we increase the number of embassies in mexico?
salvador is right next to the honduras embassy. honduras is down south. el salvador. which makes it easy to understand why they want to migrate. the location of the embassies is just messed up. >> so were talking about increasing processing of people who want to come to united states within mexico, increasing the capacity to do that, is that your question? ok, so in country processing. >> one think is worth putting out there on a factual basis, you cannot apply for asylum and use the embassy or consutela -- consulate anywhere in the world. that's up that's not the way the process refugee processing happens to international agreements and interagency cooperation with unhcr if you want asylum get to physically get to the united states. our embassies and consulates process visa applications for legal immigration system but they do not process asylum application. is this something we should
consider? possibly, but i think the way our system is set up it right now, it allows for more definitely management. it does raise an interesting question, and this came up in the recent guatemala conversation, which is if there were more legal visas, workpieces, again if we are talking about a population that has mixed motivations in coming, looking for are economic prosperity and security, with more legal visas be another avenue? that's a much bigger picture that requires immigration reform in the united states and congress to address that. but that is something to think about. interestingly in the guatemalan negotiations, dhs two days ago said, they talked about some sort of preferential treatment for h2a visa guatemalans. that's before the president said we are going to ban all visas. that's a worthwhile thing to think about in the longer term. >> it's an important distinction that asylum can only be claimed arriving at the border. applying
for refugee status what happened outside the country. there's also context in which their discussions that are zeroing out the refugee program entirely. i want to get a chance respond to the briefly and then we'll take one more. >> many ngos have recommended that the be a resettlement initiative from mexico. limited in country processing given the dangers there and given that how difficult it has been to do any kind of in country processing for people were facing real risk from some of these countries. there deftly -- definitely could be a much more significant refugee resettlement initiative, particularly for children but also for families and others -- and the mexican asylum office needs many more offices around the country as well as more staff and that means the mexican government funding it as well as the u.s. increasing in support to unhcr to do more. >> i want to quickly, we are a refugee resettlement. want to
point out the inconsistency when the president launched its immigration plan in january, he talked about in country processing and at the same time we're hearing we're going to sue -- out resettlement. again, we zero talked about the in aid. in there is an inconsistency the application and protection system that really does need to , be resolved. if you're not interested into refugee resettlement, which would be a shame and loss and abdication of u.s. leadership and the devastation i think for families around the world at a time of amazing displacement, then how exactly would a processing system work if you're not interested in refugee resettlement? >> good morning. one of the speakers are the groups that are missing are not the central americans but some points of the actual parties or policymakers. and they know the two of you that clearly must be involved in
some lobbying, at least one of on the humanitarian side the , reasons all this is happening is because without legislation, it leaves a lot of room for the administration to make decisions. quickly do think there's a space in our current party situation where from one site it seems -- on oregonian, one side doesn't let anyone in there will be no returns, tell the other side people what they , can say so they can stay regards of the status and no one ever has to leave the united states. that's what it seems to me. is there a space in your view working with the parties that recommendations or changes to asylum can actually happen? within the u.s. congress, is there a space for speaking >> this is our reason for the bipartisan policy center for being is to try to create , the space. one of the recent want to put at this report is that what we've seen from both sides is an awful lot of outrage about what is happening and less
conversation about what to do about it. so we wanted to try to turn the conversation from outrage of the existing situation to offering some ideas and concepts are solutions that -- for solutions that we believe could bring some of the parties together. there are obviously, very strong difference of opinion about the causes of this and why people come. i agree with the ambassador on that. you may never get people to agree on that but if the outrage can turn to solutions, that's what we set up our report the way we did short, medium and long-term. what we think it some could be could be done. some could be done by administration with a congressional push but we are starting to see some efforts, bipartisan efforts in congress members of both parties trying to figure out the all of the places we can agree to do something on this. the debate over the border supplemental was one of those places where they are starting to figure out that just battling each other and yelling at each other and if nothing changes, nothing changes so maybe we should try to change
something. it wasn't perfect and there were people didn't like it from one side or the other but it did get passed in a bipartisan way. .. people can try to come together, we want to facilitate that the best we can. i will not lay odds on congress at any point in time but the optimism is nobody thinks what is happening now is fine. that is it. the level of outrage >> about what is going on on both sides, feeling -- congress is going home. they are going to hear about this, i guarantee you from all sides and if they don't come back with an impetus to try to fix it i don't know. >> this is your close. is it possible to come up with
reforming the us system the can have a real impact given the divisiveness of the debate at the moment? >> i would say yes there are republican and democrat lawmakers having conversations about trying to reach a consensus. it is a difficult environment for that. every day there is a new policy change or suggestion or tweet. it is hard for lawmakers to continue that consensus building which is fragile in this environment. as they try to reach consensus they will need impetus to move that forward into the public arena and everybody acknowledges there gain full momentum. everybody acknowledges there is a humanitarian issue, something needs to be done but it is with a solution that once it is
unveiled can gain consensus and approval. that is the issue. lawmakers are working together but getting it over the finish line is exceedingly difficult. >> you need the president's signature. let's not forget. >> do you want to weigh in? you >> mexico, from our side, we should think carefully about what our outmigration policy should look like and that is pending on the mexican side, and it has been pending. it is not something of this particular administration. our own discussion of what sort of temporary worker programs want. is our immigration law appropriate for the present context the foreseeable future. and the foreseeable future. that discussion needs to take place. whether we can be helpful in the debate here on immigration i credit both sides, don't get -- i have heard do not get close because you are radioactive or
are you willing to play along and do things that would signal political players here that mexico is willing to be serious about. i may be wrong, we should be engaged, recognize it is something for the us to decide but to the extent that we can be helpful in the region, it helps. >> in terms of the proposal to change the asylum law we are concerned about a number of those. they are more about gutting the asylum system rather , than strengthening it. but there are areas of bipartisan agreement. there has been agreement for a long time on the need for more immigration judges. and i do think in the longer term, there ways to restore order, to have a functional system that is timely and fair and effective, and that upholds u.s. law as well as u.s. human rights commitments.
>> a slightly optimistic note. two and on. for coming and for this great discussion. i think we will close here. for comingu everyone here, for your questions and for your engagement. once again i would like to mention thank you to everybody who came to this panel. thank you for our moderator. please give them a round of applause. [applause] and then one more pitch. we have a podcast called this weekend immigration that comes out every two weeks. if you want to keep hearing our perspectives on a host of issues, you can find that online. we have it on our website. you can also find it on google and apple music and stitcher. pick that up if you want to hear more. thank you so much. [applause]
announcer: now, president trump announces an agreement on immigration between the u.s. and guatemala. every quires migrants to cross into guatemala on their way to the u.s., to apply for protections in guatemala, rather than at the u.s. border. also on hand for the announcement was acting homeland , kevin k.ecretary mcaleenan, acting head of homeland security. >> thank you very much for being here. i'm thrilled to be with a very important man in guatemala. interior minister enrique degenhart of guatemala