State Department Disputes White House Claims of Border Crisis Agreements

WH official claimed agreements in place with Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras

U.S. southern border
The U.S.-MexicGetty Images
April 17, 2021

A State Department spokeswoman on Friday disputed a top White House official's claim that President Biden had secured agreements with Central American countries to address the border crisis.

While White House aide Tyler Moran told MSNBC on Monday the administration had reached security deals with Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala, a State Department spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon no such agreements are in place.

"While we are coordinating efforts, no agreements have been established," the spokeswoman said. "Each of the countries has decided on how to strengthen border security in ways that are appropriate for them, and we have seen the result in increased access to protection, apprehensions of irregular migrants, greater numbers of checkpoints, and the successful dispersal of large, organized migrant groups."

Moran said the administration reached agreements with the Latin American countries to secure their borders in an effort to deter smugglers and drug and child traffickers from coming to the United States.

"We've secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border. Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala have all agreed to do this," Moran said. "That not only is going to prevent the traffickers, and the smugglers, and cartels that take advantage of the kids on their way here, but also to protect those children."

Federal and foreign officials have also contradicted Moran's claim. Northern Triangle Special Envoy Ricardo Zúniga testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Biden administration has not reached any agreement with the countries. Similarly, Honduras Foreign Affairs Minister Lisandro Rosales said Monday the nation has made no commitment to put soldiers on its border.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) accused the Biden administration of lying to the American people about the border crisis.

"This is a series of bold-faced lies," Issa said. "The [Biden administration] has deliberately said something that wasn't true affecting foreign policy.... He’s taking credit for what is the unilateral efforts of these countries to deal with the crisis that he’s created for them."

Mark Morgan, former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and Heritage Foundation visiting fellow, said the administration is hurting the American people the most with misleading public statements.

"You look to our elected leaders, especially at the highest levels of government, to speak to you and tell you the truth," Morgan said. "When that’s not happening, you erode everything we stand for."

Morgan also said the conflicting statements undermine the narrative that the Biden administration respects and values its allies and partners.

"This administration is trying to portray that this never happened under the Trump administration," Morgan said of working with regional partners. "They’re lying about it."

The crisis at the border remains a major problem for the Biden administration. Suspected terrorists and gang members have been apprehended, and border crossings in March hit a 15-year high, as an understaffed border patrol struggles to address the varied humanitarian and security problems that come with a massive influx of illegal immigration.