In an interview with Pete Mundo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed several issues related to US foreign policy, including his upcoming trip to Latin America. The transcript below was edited to only include issues related to Latin America and the Caribbean.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joining us here on 710 KCMO and 103.7 FM. Mr. Secretary, you have a trip planned for later this week. You’re going to be hitting some countries in Central America that obviously ties back to everything on the border as well, the immigration crisis that this country is facing right now. What are your goals on this trip and how do they tie in to hopefully stemming the tide of illegal immigration that we are seeing across the southern border?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So the trip has a number of purposes, but your point is well taken. One of them is to talk to a number of countries. I’ll be in El Salvador and then I’ll be in Mexico to talk to a number of countries about America’s duty to ensure its own sovereignty and to keep our southern border secure. We want lawful, legal immigration. President Trump has talked about that a great deal. But we today have a crisis on our southern border with people coming across illegally and we need assistance – this is where the Secretary of State comes in – we need these countries to take actions inside of their own country so that our ICE and CBP agents on our southern border don’t have to do all that work.
We’ve made some progress. Mexico has made some progress. They’re doing better. But when I travel to the Northern Triangle and indeed when I’m in South America this week, I want to talk about the importance of each of these countries taking on their responsibility to ensure that the United States problem on its southern border is mitigated.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not we need to add more funding to these countries. Where does that factor into the equation for you?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So, Pete, it’s the case that for years and years and years we’ve provided hundreds of millions of dollars – taxpayer, U.S. taxpayer dollars – to these countries and it, as you can see, hasn’t delivered the outcome we’re looking for with respect to American security and security along our southern border. So President Trump’s made the decision that, with respect to the three countries in the Northern Triangle, we would turn off that assistance and frankly demand that they do the things that they’re capable of doing. They’ve now expressed some willingness. We need to work alongside them to deliver on this outcome. It is imperative that this crisis on our southern border be resolved in a way that ensures that folks who are going back and forth from Mexico with commercial goods can make it through efficiently, those who are moving through there lawfully can do so, but those whom the United States has – that are not permitted to come in legally can’t do so.