VP Mike Pence to Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras: "This Exodus Must End"

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Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen brought a message from President Donald Trump to Guatemalan, El Salvadoran, and Honduran leaders Thursday in Guatemala City.

Pence demanded more be done by Central American leaders about the growing number of migrants being detained at the U.S. border, saying to Guatemala's Jimmy Morales, El Salvador's Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Honduras' Juan Orlando Hernandez: "Our nation needs your nations to do more."

"I say with great respect to the Presidents gathered here: This exodus must end," Pence said to the leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras at a meeting in Guatemala City. "Just as we respect your borders and your sovereignty, we insist that you respect ours."





"We will always welcome your citizens to our nation if they follow our laws. The United States, as history records, is the most welcoming home for immigrants in history," Pence said. "In the last year alone, the United States welcomed more than 1.1 million legal immigrants into our countries and our communities, including nearly 50,000 legal immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador last year."

"Ultimately, this crisis cannot be solved by America alone. And that’s what brought us together today. The truth is, weak economies, corruption, drugs, and violence are the root causes of this crisis. The United States has long partnered with your countries to address these challenges, and our efforts, as we discussed today, have made some progress. But as we now see at our nation’s southern border, the need for stronger action is more urgent than ever. And as we discussed, with great respect, our nation needs your nations to do more."

Wednesday in Brazil, Pence repeated the same message, warning potential migrants: "If You Can't Come Legally, Don't Come At All"








VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: President Morales, President Hernández, President Sánchez Cerén thank you for gathering at this important time — a time of great importance for our country and yours. I’m especially grateful to you, President Morales, for the hospitality that you’ve shown us here in Guatemala City.

And I’m pleased to be joined today by the Secretary of Homeland Security for the United States, Kirstjen Nielsen. Following our discussions today, Secretary Nielsen will be convening a ministerial back here in Guatemala on July the 10th to review the proposals that we first discussed here today.

Before I begin, Mr. President, let me personally convey the condolences of the American people to the people of Guatemala in the wake of the Volcán de Fuego eruption earlier this month.

In the wake of this disaster, many Americans and American aid organizations were swiftly on the scene, and we’re proud of their generosity and compassion. The United States government was also pleased to provide more than a million dollars to help families who’ve lost their homes. My wife Karen visited a shelter today with your First Lady, not far from the volcano, meeting with families who have lost their homes, to hear their stories.

And, Mr. President, you can be confident the United States will continue to work with your government to provide support, food, medicine, and shelter to those in the wake of this terrible disaster. And we’ll continue to pray for the good people of Guatemala as you recover and rebuild.

President Donald Trump sent me here today because the United States faces another crisis on our southern border, and I’m sad to report to the Presidents gathered here that the vast majority of those entering our country illegally are from your countries.

As we discussed, the numbers are staggering. Since the start of this year, more than 150,000 Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorians have left their homes and made the often-dangerous journey to the southern border of the United States, and sought to enter our nation illegally.

While many claim asylum, few are fleeing persecution. Among, this flood of illegal migrants are human traffickers and violent gang members, like MS-13. But most are making the journey seeking economic opportunity, driven by the misguided belief that they can ignore the laws of the United States and enter our nation without consequences.

I say with great respect to the Presidents gathered here: This exodus must end. It is a threat to the security of the United States. And just as we respect your borders and your sovereignty, we insist that you respect ours.

We will always welcome your citizens to our nation if they follow our laws. The United States, as history records, is the most welcoming home for immigrants in history.

I speak to you as the grandson of an immigrant. My own grandfather sailed past the Statue of Liberty before arriving at Ellis Island. And in the last year alone, the United States welcomed more than 1.1 million legal immigrants into our countries and our communities, including nearly 50,000 legal immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador last year.

As we discussed, your people deserve to know that under the leadership of President Donald Trump, we are making our borders stronger and more secure than ever before. As President Trump has said, “If you don’t have borders, then you don’t have a country.”

And at the President’s direction, and working with Secretary Nielsen, we’re increasing enforcement and prosecutions. We’ve begun construction of a new southern border wall. And we have enacted the largest investment in border security in nearly a decade. We’re also working with our Congress to close the loopholes that too often serve as a magnet for vulnerable families all across this region.

President Trump has also taken action to keep families together while we enforce our laws and secure our border. And I’m grateful for the words of affirmation that have been expressed in our meeting today by the Presidents gathered here.

Earlier today, the First Lady visited with children from your countries in Arizona. And as we discussed, we’re working to reunite families from your nations who have been caught trying to illegally enter the United States. In our country, we believe we can, as the Old Book says, “do justice and love kindness” at the same time.

But ultimately, this crisis cannot be solved by America alone. And that’s what brought us together today. The truth is, weak economies, corruption, drugs, and violence are the root causes of this crisis. The United States has long partnered with your countries to address these challenges, and our efforts, as we discussed today, have made some progress. But as we now see at our nation’s southern border, the need for stronger action is more urgent than ever. And as we discussed, with great respect, our nation needs your nations to do more.

Last week, President Hernandez and I met in Washington, D.C., where we agreed to take new steps to strengthen our security partnership. And today, we all discussed specific new steps that Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador can take, with American support, to end this crisis at our southern border.

Tell your people that coming to the United States illegally will only result in a hard journey and a harder life. As we discussed today, the Presidents gathered here and your administrations can communicate to your people with more credibility than any other voices about the need to turn aside from those who would promise to bring them to our border for illegal entry.

You can take down the public advertisements for human traffickers within your nations. You can renew the fight against corruption, criminal groups, and gang violence. You can strengthen your borders and your frontier police, and tear down the barriers to opportunities and jobs.

As I said to each of you today, the American people and our President are determined to secure our borders and bring this crisis to an end. And with your renewed partnership, we know we’ll do just that.

It is an honor to be with you today and to have the opportunity to have such a candid conversation among allies and friends. I know that each of you know that the American people cherish our relationship with your countries and cherish your people. We only want what is best for our people and yours.

So as I close, permit me to deliver a message directly to the people of Guatemala, and Honduras, and El Salvador, straight from my heart, and straight from the heart of the American people: You are our neighbors. We want you and your nations to prosper. If you want to come to the United States, come legally, or don’t come at all. If someone tells you they can bring you or your children to America outside the law, don’t believe them.

Don’t risk your lives or the lives of your children by coming to the United States on the road run by drug smugglers and human traffickers. Hold on to your homes and your homeland. Hold on to your children. Build your lives in your homes, and know that the people of the United States of America will keep working every day for a brighter future our people and people all across this new world.

The truth is, we are bound together as friends in this hemisphere of freedom and a hemisphere of faith. As I said before, my wife Karen visited today with Guatemalan families left homeless by the volcanic eruption. I know she prayed with them, she mourned with them, and she told them that the American people are committed to help them rebuild their lives.

The truth is, we all live in the same neighborhood. We succeed when our neighbors succeed. We struggle when our neighbors struggle. And so the people of our nation will always be there to stand with you as neighbors and friends.

So, President Morales, thank you again for hosting us in your beautiful country today. And to President Hernández and President Sánchez Cerén, thank you for traveling on short notice to be here today.

President Trump and I respect your leadership and respect your countries. We have much work ahead of us, but we know with your leadership, with the leadership of President Trump, and with the good will of the people of all of our countries, and with God’s help, that together we will overcome this present challenge, and together we will reach a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless your countries.

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