Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will meet with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras on Thursday to discuss the immigration crisis at the southern border of the U.S., the White House announced Tuesday.
The meeting is set to take place in Guatemala. Pence had been scheduled to make a trip to the country to meet with survivors of the eruption of the Volcano of Fire, which killed at least 62 people this month.
Further details about the visit were not available.
The meeting comes amid an intense public debate over the Trump administration’s immigration policy, which has resulted in more than 2,000 migrant children being separated from their parents and spread across the United States.
Images and audio recordings of children in metal cages at government-run facilities set off an international outcry and prompted President Trump to sign an executive order last week aimed at ending family separations.
Yet, on Capitol Hill, the debate over a comprehensive immigration overhaul rages on, with little certainty about a solution.
After a hard-line immigration bill fell short of passage in the House last week, Senate Republicans are pressing ahead this week with plans to vote on a narrower measure aimed at fixing a flaw in Trump’s executive order and allowing children to stay longer with their parents in detention. There was a lack of clarity Tuesday as to whether the Senate might act on that measure before leaving town for its July 4 recess.
Pence is currently in Brazil, where he is set to meet with Brazilian President Michel Temer. He is expected to travel to Ecuador on Wednesday and then to Guatemala. In addition to U.S. immigration policy, Pence’s talks with Latin American leaders are expected to focus on the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
Latin American countries such as Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador had come out strongly this month in opposition to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration. The bulk of the separated migrant children came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, officials say.