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Cablegate: Dhs Secretary Chertoff in Mexico, February 15-16:

VZCZCXRO8210
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #0965/01 0572217
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 262217Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5546
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MEXICO 000965

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR INL; WHA/MEX
DHS FOR A/S J. MYERS; OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - K.
O'REILLY; CBP - C. STALLWORTH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER SNAR
SUBJECT: DHS SECRETARY CHERTOFF IN MEXICO, FEBRUARY 15-16:
MEETINGS WITH INTERIOR, TREASURY OFFICIALS


THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED; PLEASE HANDLE
ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: Secretary Chertoff's February 15
meetings with GOM Interior (Gobernacion) officials occasioned
broad-ranging discussions of ongoing bilateral cooperation
and yielded several specific proposals to broaden it,
including:

--A commitment to work together closely in shaping and
implementing a strategy to control Mexico's southern border;

--A commitment to strengthen and expand the Border Violence
Protocols;

--A proposal to expand and strengthen the Border Violence
Protocols by extending the program along the length of the
U.S. - Mexican border and deepening tactical intelligence
exchanges;

--An offer to improve the Interior Repatriation Program by
including "at-risk" travelers and Central American illegals;

--An effort to encourage the GOM to broaden biometric data
sharing by capturing finger-print data on incoming airline
passengers;

--An offer to exchange information with Mexico on contingency
planning concerning a possible mass migration from Cuba after
Castro's death; and

--A request that Mexico consider requiring visas of
Venezuelan travelers.

2. (SBU) Secretary Chertoff first met with officials from
Mexico's Ministry of Interior. Headed by Secretary Ramirez
Acuna, it consisted of representatives from the ministry's
bureau of population, migration, and religious affairs, the
chief and representatives from Mexico's intelligence agency
(CISEN), the head of the National Migration Institute
(INAMI), the new Undersecretary for North American Affairs
from the Foreign Ministry, and Mexican Customs Commissioner.

3. (SBU) The nearly two-hour meeting covered 1)
immigration; 2) Mexico's southern border strategy; 3) the
Border Violence Protocols; 4) repatriation of Mexican and
third country nationals; 5) biometric data exchanges; and 6)
Cuba and Venezuela.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
Migration: U.S. Temp Worker Plan Possible, But Controls
Necessary
--------------------------------------------- -----------

4. (SBU) Both Ramirez Acuna and the Secretary lauded the
close bilateral relationship, underscored shared concerns,
and stressed the priority President Calderon attaches to
strengthening cooperation in law enforcement, migration, and
border security. Secretary Chertoff commended President
Calderon's recent law and order initiatives and provided an
overview of his chief concerns: trans-border terrorism,
organized narco-crime, and illegal migration. Concerning the
latter, he noted his hope that a stronger Mexican economy
would help stem flows of illegal migrants to the U.S.
Secretary Chertoff stressed President Bush's continued

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commitment to a temporary worker program (TWP) in the United
States and underscored the need to control who enters the
U.S. across our southern border, both as a matter of public
security and to build public support for TWP. He said that
in the coming months the United States Government would
continue to take measures to secure the border, even as it
moves forward with immigration reform. He himself would be
leading a high profile effort to strengthen controls against
illegal immigration in coming weeks, he advised his
counterparts.

------------------------------------------
Southern Border: Give us a Plan and a POC
------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) At the same time, the Secretary noted, we are

MEXICO 00000965 002 OF 004


concerned by illegal migrants from third countries passing
through Mexico to the United States and the vulnerabilities
to criminal elements such traffic posed to both the U.S. and
Mexico. We are interested in working with Mexico to develop
strategies to attack smugglers, get at their organizations,
and target their money. The U.S., he stressed, wants to help
Mexico secure its own southern border and is eager to hear
how the GOM plans to do so.

6. (SBU) Ramirez Acuna and his team (gladly) outlined their
view of the problem, stressing its regional socioeconomic
roots: poorly performing Central American economies and
persistent social problems created the impetus for migrant
flows northward to and through Mexico. These problems,
compounded by the region's rugged physical environment,
create the conditions in which illegality festers.
Ultimately, they need to be addressed broadly. For now,
Mexico needs not only a better analytic handle on illegal
activities in the south, it needs to concentrate resources in
key areas such as the formal and "informal" ports of entry
along the Guatemalan border, as well as on the isthmus of
Tehuantepec, a natural choke point for smugglers of illegal
people and goods.

7. (SBU) Secretary Chertoff responded by saying the U.S.
was willing to support a strategic plan. He would take the
GOM's broad view of the problem back to Washington and
explore how we might concentrate our intelligence and law
enforcement resources in support of a plan. He asked Ramirez
Acuna to identify a principal point of contact for the GOM's
southern border strategy and promised to do the same within
DHS. CISEN Director Guillermo Valdes would coordinate this
effort for Mexico, Ramirez Acuna said.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Border Violence Protocols: Expand Tactical Cooperation
--------------------------------------------- ----------

8. (SBU) Turning to the Border Violence Protocols, Ramirez
Acuna said the experience of the past year has been very
positive. Mexico is pulling together the police elements
necessary to better secure its northern frontier in a climate
of heightened violence. Mexico wanted to expand the
Protocols along the length of the border, he said. CISEN
head Valdes seconded this, saying that the visit of the Chief
of the Border Patrol, David Aguilar, underscored the utility
of the mechanism. He suggested that the United States and
Mexico might even broaden the program's focus. Tightened
U.S. security along the border was likely increasing the
propensity for violence in the area, Valdes said, as criminal
organizations challenged the growing effectiveness of
government efforts to repress their activities. Valdes
assured Secretary Chertoff that CISEN would develop a
strategic approach to analyzing and countering growing
violence along the border and welcomed engaging a counterpart
USG element in this regard.

9. (SBU) Secretary Chertoff agreed that criminal
organizations would likely turn to violence to defend their
activities, and said that President Calderon had correctly
focused on border violence. He concurred that the U.S. and
Mexico should expand the Border Violence Protocols. On
greater intelligence sharing, he submitted that such
exchanges should be driven by operational concerns with
emphasis placed on improving immediate response capability
through better coordination between field commanders on both
sides of the border.

--------------------------------------
Repatriations: Two Programs Compared
--------------------------------------

10. (SBU) GOM representatives lead this discussion with an
assessment of Mexican measures to coordinate repatriations of
illegal Central American migrants. Close engagement with
Central American governments, through a series of bilateral
accords, allowed for "rapid, agile, large-scale"
repatriations with minimal problems, argued INAMI
Commissioner Cecilia Romero. SRE Under Secretary for North
America Carlos Rico then called for an evaluation of
voluntary repatriations of illegal Mexican nationals from the

MEXICO 00000965 003 OF 004


United States based on such "best practices." While he
called the U.S.-Mexico Interior Repatriation (IR) program
successful overall, he argued for improvement in some
aspects, such as consular access. He also took the
opportunity to comment on recent cases of violence against
Mexican nationals in the United States, noting his
government's frustration with the lack of follow-up in
investigations.

11. (SBU) On the issue of violence against Mexican
nationals, Secretary Chertoff stressed the professionalism of
Border Patrol agents, their training, and the rules of
engagement under which they operate. However, he noted,
agents face a constant barrage of attacks, ranging from rock
throwing to incidents of far greater severity, and Mexico
should understand their need to defend themselves
appropriately. Referring to the IR program, he acknowledged
room for improvement and offered two suggestions. First, he
urged Mexican authorities to allow the program to expand to
include at-risk illegal travelers such as the aged, infirm,
and incapacitated, even when they do not volunteer for the
program. Second, he proposed using the repatriation flights
to better advantage by flying on to their home countries
Central Americans detained in both the U.S. and Mexico.
Though GOM representatives did not respond enthusiastically
to either suggestion, Ramirez Acuna asked INAMI's
Commissioner Romero to work with Julie Myers of Immigration
and Customs Enforcement to explore ways to improve the
program.

-----------------------------
Biometrics: More Data Needed
-----------------------------

12. (SBU) GOM representatives discussed the methods used to
verify travelers and merchandise to and through Mexico.
Among other initiatives, they noted the implementation of new
technologies and the scope of their APIS efforts, which
covered 22 airlines and more than 20 million passengers in
2006. Secretary Chertoff agreed that APIS and other GOM
measures were working effectively, but noted our desire to
broaden biometric exchanges to include the broader capture
and exchange of fingerprints. Such exchanges would benefit
both countries, he argued.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Cuba/Venezuela: Planning for Future Contingencies
--------------------------------------------- -----

13. (SBU) Ramirez Acuna raised the issue of conditions in
Cuba and Venezuela and noted the uncertainty in the region in
the advent of Fidel Castro's demise, emphasizing Mexico's
concerns with a possible mass migration. This should concern
the U.S. as well, he noted; the U.S. and Mexico at least need
to compare approaches to the potential problem. Secretary
Chertoff asked if the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) had developed a
plan to deal with a mass migration. Ramirez Acuna said that
it had. Secretary Chertoff offered to put our Coast Guard in
touch with SEMAR to ensure coordinated contingency planning
in this regard.

14. (SBU) On Venezuela, the Secretary asked for an
assessment of Venezuelan intentions after Castro's demise,
noting that Venezuela President Hugo Chavez appeared to be
looking for friends among the world's most dangerous powers.
Ramirez Acuna stated that the GOM shared the USG's concerns
regarding Chavez and was carefully monitoring his reach
within the region, as well as within Mexico. Secretary
Chertoff noted our concerns that Venezuela had not only shown
itself to be hostile to common U.S. - Mexican interests, but
that it was careless in issuing travel documents to its
citizens and those who purported to be Venezuelans.
Secretary Chertoff suggested Mexico might consider adjusting

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its visa policy toward Venezuelans to monitor the influx of
Venezuelan document holder more effectively. CISEN's Valdes
noted that Mexico was already exercising due diligence of
Venezuelan travelers.

15. (U) Secretary Chertoff did not have an opportunity to
clear this message before leaving Mexico.


MEXICO 00000965 004 OF 004

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
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GARZA

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