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January 22, 2020San Salvador, El SalvadorEnforcement and Removal

ICE ERO hosts Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement workshop for Central American counterparts in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) recently brought together stakeholders from Central American law enforcement agencies, as well as ERO attaches and representatives from ICE headquarters, to host the first Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) workshop at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in San Salvador, El Salvador.

The workshop, which took place in early December 2019, offered participants presentations about the SAFE task force program and later broke them into groups to formulate additional ideas on how to best expand the SAFE program throughout Latin America and around the world.

Marlen Pineiro, assistant director of ERO removal operations, emphasized the importance of the program, this workshop, and the recent Memorandum of Cooperation signed by the U.S. and El Salvador. "SAFE is intended to keep the streets of the U.S. and El Salvador safe by identifying fugitives who are evading us and bringing them back to face justice through cooperation of governments – particularly criminals who have outstanding warrants." Pineiro added: "The program is also intended for information to be shared between our foreign partners to locate fugitives hiding in the U.S. and, eventually, deport them back to their respective countries to stand trial for their alleged crimes."

This was the first time ICE ERO has held a workshop about the SAFE program. "Its purpose was for other units from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and other attaches from around the world (including deputies) to come to one place to discuss how the success that we've experienced here in El Salvador can be expanded to other places around the world," explained Guadalupe Serna, ERO Assistant Attaché for Removals assigned to El Salvador. One of the program’s chief objectives, she explained, is "to maintain that networking, that coordination, that international information sharing to ensure these fugitives who have absconded from the crimes they committed are brought back to justice."

In 2012, ERO created the SAFE pilot program in concert with El Salvadoran law enforcement authorities to better use subject information derived from local in-country investigative resources and leads to locate, apprehend, detain, and remove individuals residing in the U.S. illegally who were subject to foreign arrest warrants. SAFE El Salvador was so effective in enhancing intelligence leads and optimizing removal operations between the U.S. and El Salvador that the neighboring countries of Honduras and Guatemala were quick to adopt it.

SAFE is a fugitive enforcement and information sharing partnership that operates primarily out of the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras under the respective host nation’s Assistant Attaché for Removal (AAR). To implement SAFE, a participating host nation’s AAR constructs a SAFE task force composed of relevant foreign law enforcement agencies, immigration authorities, attorneys general, and national identification repositories – as well as other regional, national, state, and local government agencies. The managing AAR ensures that each task force member complies with SAFE policies and standards consistent with the program’s standard operating procedures. Once established, the AAR-led SAFE task force generates new leads and vets existing SAFE fugitive referrals for ERO action.

Updated: 04/16/2021