U.S., Mexico Strengthen Human Trafficking Protections
On Aug. 1-3, 2007, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in coordination with the Office of the Attorney General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Public Safety, held a conference on the bi-national program Operation Against Smugglers Initiative on Safety and Security (OASISS) in San Antonio, Texas.
During this event, both countries recognized that OASISS has promoted collaboration and established high levels of trust between participating agencies in order to focus on human smuggling and trafficking.
The OASISS program — initiated in 2005 with the objective of protecting migrants against the risks and violence they encounter — has facilitated the prosecution against individuals that engaged in human smuggling and trafficking. The successes, cooperation and shared responsibility of the OASISS program were highlighted along with the strategies implemented to safeguard the physical integrity of migrants. Its success lies in the commitment that both nations have established to weaken criminal organizations involved in human smuggling.
This program has proven successful, allowing authorities from both governments to discuss the use of best practices of the program in future cooperation in the fight against criminal organizations that would result in a more secure border.
Both countries agreed to strengthen the cooperation in areas of mutual interest, to promote real-time information exchange, and to drive a greater synergy aimed at penalizing those responsible for committing crimes related to human trafficking and smuggling in either of the two countries.
Among the accords reached between both governments was the expansion of OASISS to the Mexican State of Coahuila and the corresponding regions of central Texas, from El Paso, Texas to Eagle Pass, Texas.
During this event, Customs and Border Protection and the Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) representatives highlighted results of their collaboration along the border where the program has been implemented. They discussed changing dynamics along the border driven by recent enforcement efforts in the United States and Mexico. They reviewed procedures, program and training.