On April 25-27, United States Customs and Border Protection hosted a border security professional exchange with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) member states and regional partners focused on issues of mutual concern related to border management throughout the Caribbean.
The exchange was designed to increase collaboration between international partners and the United States government on border security. Subject matter experts led robust and productive discussions on topics such as foreign terrorist fighters, border security, migration trends, and countering criminal networks.
Participants included leaders working in customs, immigration, and police operations, as well as permanent secretaries from the following CARICOM member states: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Additional participants included border security professionals from the Dominican Republic, Panama, and the United States; as well as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and those two nations’ respective overseas territories.
The three-day exchange was funded by the US Department of State under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative but did not include any “police leaders” from Saint Lucia, which is subject to sanctions under the Leahy Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, restricting US aid to the island’s police force.
According to a State Department spokesperson, the US government invited St. Lucia’s permanent secretary, deputy comptroller, and assistant comptroller of Customs to focus on border security challenges.
The professional exchange opened with keynote remarks from the US Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, Linda Taglialatela, and Rayburn Blackmoore, Minister of Justice, Immigration and National Security for Dominica and Chair of the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement within CARICOM.
“For the region’s borders to be secure, we must not only work within our sovereign states to identify and implement action,” Taglialatela said. “We must also seek input from Caribbean and US government agencies, and our partner nations around the globe. That is how we effectively secure our communities and protect our citizens — and our families.”