The first ladies of both Guatemala and Honduras on Thursday toured border patrol facilities packed at more than twice their capacity with illegal immigrants fleeing those countries and others.
Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan invited the women to McAllen, Texas to meet their citizens face to face, to hear why they are fleeing by the thousands to cross through the Rio Grande Valley into the U.S., KGBT’s Sydney Hernandez reports.
#BORDERNEWS Currently, there are 6,700 immigrants in custody in the RGV alone, well over the sector holding capacity of 3,300. Most of them are from the Northern Triangle and that’s exactly why the first lady of Honduras and first lady of Guatemala came to McAllen, today. #RGV pic.twitter.com/l6zALNHZu4
— Sydney Hernandez (@SydneyKGBT) June 20, 2019
“Currently, there are 6,700 immigrants in custody in the RGV alone, well over the sector holding capacity of 3,300,” Hernandez posted to Twitter Thursday. “Most of them are from the Northern Triangle and that’s exactly why the first lady of Honduras and first lady of Guatemala came to McAllen, today.”
The women toured the McAllen processing center, overrun by 1,600 illegal immigrants apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley every day. Those illegal immigrants are quickly processed and transferred to shelters in McAllen and elsewhere.
Guatemalan first lady Patricia Marroquin De Morales and Ana Garcia Carias, the first lady of Honduras, made a stop at the Catholic Charities Respite Center in downtown McAllen, where about 900 illegal immigrants arrive every day. There, the women offered vague generalities about what their governments are doing to control the massive migration, but promised to meet with DHS officials to find ways to cooperate.
“Carias says they have campaigns to show the risks of migrating, as well as programs to deter crime and provide solutions for poverty,” Hernandez said, interpreting the first lady’s comments.
Morales blamed the problem on the criminal organizations profiting from the immigration crisis.
Morales said “smugglers lie to immigrants about immigration policies in the United States, and that’s why she accepted the invitation from DHS … to see the border first hand,” according to Hernandez.
Ironically, the presidents of both Honduras and Guatemala have been accused of ties to the criminal organizations that are making big profits from pushing drugs and illegal immigrants across the U.S. border.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales ran on a campaign slogan of “neither corrupt, nor a crook” but faced large protests in 2017 after his older brother and close advisor Sammy Morales was arrested on corruption and money laundering charges. Morales’ son, Jose Manuel Morales, was also arrested in connection to the same crimes, according to Reuters.
In late 2017, a U.S. federal court in Miami convicted Marlon Francesco Monroy Meono, known as “The Ghost,” on drug trafficking charges and sentenced him to more than 21 years in prison. Meono admitted to using go-fast boats to ship cocaine from Columbia to Central America and into the U.S., a scheme that he said involved Vice President Roxana Baldetti and former Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, who also faced similar drug trafficking charges in the U.S. and corruption charges in Guatemala.
“In addition, Monroy Meono has stated publicly that he personally gave $500,000 in cash to Jefeth Cabrera Cortez, the son of Guatemala Vice President Jafeth Cabrera, which was used to help finance the 2015 electoral campaign that brought Cabrera and current President Jimmy Morales to power,” according to InSight Crime.
It’s a similar situation with Carias’ husband, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Hernandez’ brother, Juan Antonio Hernandez, was described in U.S. court records filed in 2018 as a “large-scale drug trafficker” who has moved countless shipments of cocaine into the United States through Central America for decades.
The federal indictment alleged the president’s brother operated labs in Columbia and Honduras to process cocaine that was stamped with the initials “T.H.” for Tony Hernandez, then trafficked to the United States. The scheme involved bribes for law enforcement, front companies with government contracts, and connections in the highest levels of the Honduran government, court records show.
According to The New York Times:
The indictment also alleged that Mr. Hernández “was involved in processing, receiving, transporting and distributing multi-ton loads of cocaine that arrived in Honduras via planes, go-fast vessels, and on at least one occasion, a submarine.”
As part of his activities, the indictment said, Mr. Hernández paid off law enforcement officials to protect shipments and also demanded bribes from drug traffickers for himself and “on behalf of one or more high-ranking Honduran politicians.”