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Senator Lankford Leads National Security Trip to Guatemala

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford led a congressional trip to Guatemala this week to discuss drug trafficking, immigration, national security and intelligence issues with Guatemalan officials. During the trip, from August 16 through August 18, Lankford and American diplomats met with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Attorney General Thelma Aldana and other members of the government. Lankford also met with U.S. diplomats and Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Administration, and FBI officials at the American Embassy in Guatemala. Lankford, who is the only Senator on both the Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees, was able to address key issues that have arisen in his committee work during the 114th Congress.

“Illegal immigration and drug trafficking present major national security challenges for America and our regional partners,” said Lankford. “I traveled to Guatemala to discuss mutual security interests and our shared commitment to stop illegal trafficking of humans and drugs. I was encouraged in my meetings with President Jimmy Morales, Attorney General Thelma Aldana, and other senior government leaders. They are leading a new government that is standing up to endemic corruption and narcotics trafficking.”

Also while in Guatemala, Lankford attended their 3rd Annual National Prayer Breakfast with President Morales and Members of the Guatemalan Congress, where he shared a message of steadfast leadership and international religious freedom. Lankford also visited an international nonprofit that provides foster care and social services for orphans and families in crisis.

Lankford continued, “I also had the honor of speaking at the Guatemalan National Prayer Breakfast. They respect human rights, religious freedom and the free exercise of faith or the right to have no faith at all. The Guatemalans are making progress in many areas and they deserve our support. A strong Guatemala that controls its borders, effectively prosecutes crime, protects human rights, and strengthens its economy means a more prosperous future for Guatemala, Central America and the United States.”

Guatemala has a representative democracy, but has been burdened with corruption, extreme poverty and drug trafficking. Guatemala is often listed among the top twenty poorest nations in the world, and one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. The poverty and weak economy has been a major driver of illegal immigration to America. After a 36-year conflict and tension between America and Guatemala, peace accords were signed in 1996. Since then, the United States has assisted Guatemala in its quest for stronger security and justice, economic growth, social development, and sustainable management of natural resources.