December 7, 2009: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and Mexican Secretary of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) Agustín Carstens today signed an updated and enhanced Declaration of Principles (DOP)—accomplishing the goals they outlined in June to create a joint United States-Mexico framework to improve security along the Southwest border and facilitate the flow of legitimate travel and trade.
"Protecting the interconnected security and economic interests of the United States and Mexico depends on close collaboration between our two nations," said Secretary Napolitano. "Secretary Carstens and I will continue to work together to coordinate efforts to crack down on violent drug cartels along the Southwest border while facilitating the flow of legitimate travel and trade."
"We are building upon a longstanding relationship and cooperation, which have derived extraordinary results, particularly in matters of trade facilitation to legitimate stakeholders and law enforcement," said Secretary Carstens. "However, today's world demands from us a more intelligent and coordinated way to protect our borders and facilitate trade."
Under the updated and enhanced DOP signed today, DHS and the Mexican Ministry of Finance and Public Credit will continue to make progress on existing objectives while also identifying new joint initiatives and long-term programs to augment information-sharing mechanisms and coordinate border management—improving the efficiency of border operations and strengthening law enforcement cooperation.
The DOP serves as a policy framework for engaging on multiple fronts—including emphasizing professionalism among law enforcement personnel through integrity-related training and the sharing of best practices; working toward the full implementation of the World Customs Organization's Framework of Standards; and establishing improved mechanisms for information-sharing.
The DOP also reinforces the importance of the Bilateral Strategic Plan (BSP), signed today by officials representing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Mexico Customs, which establishes an Executive Steering Committee—comprised of representatives from DHS and Mexico's Ministry of Finance and Public Credit and the Administrator General of Customs—to review coordinated initiatives to further the economic and security interests of both nations.
One such program is the establishment of Bi-National Port Security Committees, which will improve open and regular communication between ports and Port Directors along the Southwest border and address cross-border operational, safety and security issues—a significant step toward deterring violence at and near land ports of entry.
Since January, the U.S and Mexico have signed three agreements building on unprecedented levels of collaboration between the two nations designed to combat transnational crime, increase law enforcement collaboration and increase the secure flow of travel and trade along the Southwest border.