DearColleague.us

Letter

Albio Sires

From the office of:

Albio Sires

Sending Office: Honorable Albio Sires
Sent By:
Mariana.Cruz-Munoz@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

Support the Mérida Initiative in FY 2021 SFOPS Appropriations

***Deadline to sign on: TODAY March 10, 2020 COB***

FY2021 Cosigners: Reps. Eliot L. Engel, Vicente Gonzalez, Thomas R. Suozzi, David Trone, Steven Horsford, Jim Costa, Juan Vargas, Dean Phillips, Robin L. Kelly, Adriano Espaillat, Gregory W. Meeks, Ted Deutch, Tom Malinowski, Filemon Vela, Ann McLane Kuster,
Sylvia R. Garcia, Paul Cook

Dear colleague:

As you consider appropriations priorities for FY 2021, I urge you to support continued funding for the Mérida Initiative. The Mérida Initiative advances U.S. interests through joint efforts with Mexico to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and
improve the security of the U.S.-Mexico border. This funding not only provides critical resources and training to stem the flow of drugs, weapons, and money across borders but invests in strengthening Mexico’s justice sector and respect for human rights.

Given record-high levels of violence in Mexico, I have focused over the last four months on engaging with outside experts and Administration officials on how to increase the effectiveness of Mérida Initiative programs through meetings and hearings in the
Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade. Reflecting these expert recommendations and my takeaways from the last two subcommittee hearings, we have added bill language—in addition to our annual funding level request—to
better measure the impact of these programs, demand greater accountability on human rights, and require a report on US assistance to Mexico’s National Guard.

I have attached the text of the letter here. To join me in sending this letter to the House Appropriations Committee, please fill out
this form. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mariana Cruz-Muñoz at mariana.cruz-munoz@mail.house.gov.
The deadline to sign on is COB March 10, 2020.

 

Sincerely,

Albio Sires

Member of Congress

 

 

 

The Honorable Nita Lowey                                             The Honorable Hal Rogers

Chairwoman                                                                     Ranking Member

Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and           Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and

Related Programs                                                             Related Programs

H-307, The Capitol                                                          2406 Rayburn HOB

Washington, D.C. 20515                                                 Washington D.C. 20515

                                                                                      

Dear Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Rogers:

We respectfully request that you appropriate $150 million in Fiscal Year 2021 funds to sustain U.S. contributions to the Mérida Initiative, a critical U.S.-Mexico partnership to confront drug trafficking and transnational crime. This is the same level of
funding that the Mérida Initiative received in Fiscal Year 2020. We also request specific bill language regarding monitoring and evaluation, human rights and the Mexican National Guard.

Since 2008, the Mérida Initiative has sought to advance U.S. interests through joint efforts with Mexico to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and improve security in Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexico border. This funding has provided critical resources
and training to stem the flow of drugs, weapons, and money across our border while helping to strengthen Mexico’s justice sector and increase protections for human rights. Now more than ever, after Mexico’s most violent year on record, there is a need for
enhanced cooperation to consolidate the rule of law and strengthen Mexico’s law enforcement and justice sector institutions.

While progress has been made under the Mérida Initiative, historically high violence rates show that the U.S. must adapt our assistance programs to address evolving national security challenges while scaling up approaches that have been effective at the
local level. In addition to cocaine and methamphetamine, a surge in heroin and fentanyl arriving from Mexico are fueling a public health epidemic across the United States. These drugs are produced and trafficked by the same criminal organizations responsible
for violent crime, human trafficking, and human smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border. At the same time, violent crime and corruption continue to threaten citizen security and governance in Mexico. Over 93% of crimes are not investigated or reported, and
less than one percent of reported crimes result in a sanction. Corruption costs Mexico about 5% of its GDP annually.

In the face of immense challenges, it is in our national security interest to work with Mexico to develop and implement comprehensive and meaningful solutions. To do so, we must continue to invest in programs that strengthen the justice sector to reduce
impunity, support Mexico’s forensic capacity, support human rights programming, curtail illicit finance for and the flow of illegal arms to the cartels, continue to strengthen Mexico’s asylum system, and help to build strong and resilient communities. If we
are to accomplish these goals, we must invest in this programming and ensure robust systems for measuring their impact.

We have also provided the Committee with recommended bill language to direct funding toward strengthening forensic capacity and protecting human rights. The recommended language would also require the development of a comprehensive, multi-year strategy for
the Mérida Initiative, along with a joint State/USAID monitoring and evaluation plan to ensure consistent data collection and impact evaluation across agencies. We are further requesting a report on U.S. assistance to the Mexican National Guard and annual
reports on human rights progress.

It is imperative that we sustain our partnership with Mexico to confront these issues. We urge you to continue supporting the Mérida Initiative as a strategic investment in our shared security and to strengthen efforts to ensure its success.

We appreciate your consideration.

 

ADDENDUM:

 

Mérida Initiative Bill Language Requests

(1) FUNDING PRIORITIES.—The Secretary of State and Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shall prioritize assistance to support capacity-building in the Mexican security and justice sector institutions to combat
and prosecute transnational criminal organizations and to keep citizens and communities safe on both sides of the border. INCLE funds up to $100,000,000 will also prioritize the investigation and prosecution of human rights violations and training and equipment
to enhance forensics capacity in target Mexican states. ESF funds up to $50,000,000 will prioritize support for efforts to search for and identify disappeared persons and investigate those responsible.

(2) COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY AND MONITORING AND EVALUATION PLAN.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shall develop a
multi-year strategy for the Mérida Initiative that will address how to leverage investment from the Mexican Government, incorporate lessons learned from twelve years of Mérida programming, and connect local-level progress to macro-level trends by establishing
realistic goals to reduce violence and impunity in Mexico. Included in this strategy shall be a joint monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan for both the Department of State and USAID for programs, projects, or activities implemented as part of the Mérida Initiative.
The joint M&E plan is intended to provide a framework for assessing program outcomes and impact of the initiative on security in Mexico, based on benchmarks established by the Department of State and USAID. Both the Strategy and the M&E plan shall be made
available to the appropriate Congressional committees (House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Appropriations Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee).

(3) PERIODIC REVIEW.—The Secretary of State shall periodically review the progress of the central government of Mexico in meeting the established benchmarks from the strategy detailed in paragraph (2) and the progress of the Department of State and USAID
on implementing the M&E plan and shall, annually beginning one year after the creation of the M&E plan, submit to the appropriate Congressional committees (House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Appropriations Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, and
Senate Foreign Relations Committee) a report assessing such progress.

(4) HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS.—Not later than 90 days after the
date of enactment
of this Act, and annually for every year afterward, the Secretary of State shall provide a report to the appropriate Congressional committees certifying progress on human rights in Mexico and the role of U.S. assistance under the Mérida
Initiative in contributing to such progress. 25 percent of INCLE funds shall be withheld from obligation until the Secretary of State determines and reports to the committee that progress has been made on human rights in Mexico according to benchmarks identified
in the Human Rights Report.

(5) NATIONAL GUARD REPORT.— Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall provide a report to the appropriate Congressional committees (House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Appropriations Committee, Senate
Appropriations Committee, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee) describing its strategy and timeline for assistance for the National Guard. This should include information on the transfer of U.S. supported equipment from the federal police to the National
Guard, plans for U.S. training for the National Guard, including in its immigration enforcement tasks, as well as plans to support external monitoring and strengthen internal control mechanisms within the National Guard.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Appropriations, Foreign Affairs

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