December 3, 2021

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U.S. Visa Actions Supporting Democracy and Combatting Corruption in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

16 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States is launching a new visa restriction authority as part of our effort to help the people of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador improve their political, economic, and security conditions.  Too often, such improvements run up against the obstacles of corruption and impunity.  Poor governance undermines the talents and resources of Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans, undercutting their ability to build a future and motivating some to instead abandon their homes and embark on the dangerous path of irregular migration to the U.S. border.

As described in the U.S. strategy to address the root causes of migration, announced by Vice President Harris on July 29:

Governance challenges, including widespread corruption, undercut progress on economic opportunity, protection of human rights, and civilian security.  Private companies cite corruption as an impediment to investment.  Weak democratic institutions, coupled with rampant impunity, have lowered citizens’ trust in their governments and the independence of judicial systems.  Contested elections and opaque government decision-making have led to violence.

Our intent is to support citizens, organizations, and public servants in the region who are committed to generating hope and opportunity among people in Central America by strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, and transparency.

To advance this fight against corruption, today I am announcing a new visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act on the issuance of visas to current or former Guatemalan, Honduran, or Salvadoran government officials and other individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy or the rule of law. This may include acts of corruption or obstruction of democratic processes or institutions, such as subverting the integrity and independence of the judicial sector and anti-corruption prosecutors. Individuals designated under this policy, including their family members, may be denied a visa. With these restrictions, we are sending a clear message that those undermining democracy or the rule of law in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are not welcome in the United States.

This policy complements other tools the United States is using to support efforts by the people of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to promote accountability for corruption, impunity, and attacks on democracy.

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