Between September 5-7, 2023, Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall led an interagency delegation to Panama and Colombia to advance our joint efforts with regional partners to address the urgent humanitarian situation and growing migration challenge in the Darien jungle region.
While in Panama, Sherwood-Randall met with President Laurentino Cortizo. They discussed the necessity to effectively reduce the unprecedented irregular migratory flows in the region and the importance of both increasing enforcement measures to deter irregular movement and expanding safe legal pathways for migration. Dr. Sherwood-Randall expressed appreciation for the important contribution Panama is making in offering Temporary Protected Status to migrants in Panama within the framework of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection.
While in Colombia, Sherwood-Randall met with Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva to discuss the important initiatives that Colombia is pursuing in collaboration with the United States to disrupt transnational criminal groups that are exploiting migrants. She expressed appreciation for cooperation in the opening of new U.S. Secure Mobility Offices in Colombia. She also described the critical need to build on these efforts to both deter irregular migration and address the humanitarian and environmental crisis in the Darien region.
In both countries, Sherwood-Randall conducted field visits to the Darien jungle to assess what additional steps the United States can take to support our regional partners in reducing irregular migration and providing humanitarian relief.
Members of the delegation included Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Richard Verma, Combatant Commander of the U.S. Southern Command General Laura Richardson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Melissa Dalton, Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy at the Department of Homeland Security Blas Nunez-Neto, Special Assistant to the President and NSC Coordinator for the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection Katie Tobin, and Director of Operations at U.S. Southern Command Rear Admiral Thomas Allan.