WASHINGTON – Representatives of the U.S. government and Cuba met this week in Miami to exchange information on how to combat people trafficking and prevent fraud, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby announced Friday.
Representatives of the two governments “met for the purpose of exchanging information and best practices related to combating human smuggling and travel document fraud,” the State Department said.
For the United States, this cooperation “is important to advancing both countries’ commitment to ensuring safe, legal, and orderly migration.”
The talks were held at a time when thousands of Cubans are traveling through Central America and Mexico en route to the United States.
In a communique, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said the meeting went off “in an atmosphere of respect and professionalism,” and, though no concrete accord has been announced, both parties agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation to stop the scourge of human trafficking.
The Cuban delegation was led by the director of the Interior Ministry’s Identification, Immigration and Foreigners Department, Col. Mario Mendez Mayedo.
On the U.S. side were representatives of the Department of Homeland Security.
Officials from the DHS and other federal agencies also met Thursday with a dozen Republican members of Congress, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, one of the nine people seeking the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
In their meeting, the members of Congress asked the administration of President Barack Obama to work with them and come up with “a credible plan” for the South Florida towns that have problems dealing with the increase in Cuban immigration, state Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said.
Officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection told EFE this week that more than 17,000 Cuban citizens reached the United States in the last three months of 2015, almost double the arrivals registered during the same period of the year before.