KINGSTON, Jamaica – His Worship the Mayor of Kingston Councilor Desmond McKenzie, Jamaican guests and U.S. Embassy staff joined U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Brenda LaGrange Johnson in celebrating the official handover of the Embassy’s new annex building on Friday, August 22.
The annex houses the Jamaican mission of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is also the permanent home of the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Robert A. McKinnie, of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Building Operations declared the new office annex operational and ready to be occupied.
Ambassador Johnson welcomed USAID staff to the U.S. Embassy compound on Old Hope Road, noting that the agency’s consolidation with the U.S. Embassy will “provide new synergies and benefits for all of us.” She extended special thanks to Mayor McKenzie and the former Minister of Local Government Dean Peart for their “continuous support.”
USAID Mission Director Dr. Karen Hilliard and ICE Attaché Vance Callender both emphasized the importance of inter-agency as well as external partnerships in their work in Jamaica. Dr. Hilliard pointed out that her agency’s move will assist in “the current development of a unified country assistance strategy.”
She noted recent highlights of USAID’s work in Jamaica, including the handover of a greenhouse training manual through the JA-FARMS project; achievements of teachers and students in the Caribbean Centers of Excellence in Teacher Training; the launch of the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s community education campaign; and the “shining performances” of students enrolled in the GoGSAT e-learning program, sponsored by the USAID/COMET project.
Mr. Callender noted the achievements of ICE as the Department of Homeland Security’s primary investigative arm, pointing out that a fully functioning office in Kingston was established in 2006. He said that ICE is partnering closely with the Jamaica Constabulary Force on a number of investigative initiatives, and recognized USAID’s support for its anti-human trafficking activities through its public education program.