Latin American nations agree to help U.S. curb unlawful migration
President Biden will unveil a migration agreement at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on Friday. The White House hopes that it will reduce the number of migrants who have flooded the southern border in the past year, according to a senior administration official.
The agreement focuses on stabilizing communities in Latin America and expanding legal means of immigration. It also bolsters “humane” border enforcement throughout the region and collaborates on the response to people being displaced, according to a senior administration official. He requested anonymity to discuss details of the agreement before it was officially announced.
The pact will see the U.S. and other countries agree to increase temporary work visas to reduce illegal immigration and to mitigate labor shortages in the U.S. Canada and Mexico; expand refugee resettlement programs and family reunification; support for countries that host large numbers of migrants; and collaborate on efforts to eradicate human smuggling networks.
The senior administration official stated that the Biden administration will ask signatories to increase screenings of migrants on their territory in order to allow countries south of the U.S. to more quickly grant asylum to those who are eligible for humanitarian protection and deport those not.
The official said that the U.S. government will also pledge to provide additional humanitarian aid to Haiti in order to discourage illegal migration from the Caribbean country, which has seen an unprecedented number of citizens flee to the U.S. over the past year.
” The Western Hemisphere is experiencing unprecedented and historic rates of irregular migration,” a senior administration official stated. “Nearly all countries have been affected. “
The Biden administration hopes the migration accord will be one of the landmark achievements of the Los Angeles summit, the first to be held on U.S. soil since 1994. But the declaration’s immediate effect on the unprecedented flows of migrants to the U.S. border with Mexico will be limited. Its long-term effectiveness will depend on the cooperation of diverse governments, some of whom have been resisting Washington’s demands.
The summit was also marred by controversy about the Biden administration’s decision not to include leftist regimes from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela from the event. Also, the absence of leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which some of whom declined to attend due to the exclusions.
Roughly 75% of the migrants who entered U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody in April, the last month with available statistics, were from Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela. An administration official stated that the U.S. does NOT expect all countries in the Western Hemisphere (or any other part of the world) to sign the declaration. This was based on the Biden administration’s prioritization of nations “most affected by migration”. The official did not give a number of countries that would be signing the agreement.
What the countries are pledging
According to a U.S. outline of the accord, Belize agreed to legalize Central American and Caribbean migrants who have been living there; Colombia committed to extending temporary status to 1.5 million Venezuelans by the end of the summer; Costa Rica pledged to offer legal protections to migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela; and Ecuador said it would expand a legalization program for Venezuelans in its territory.
Among other steps, the Mexican government agreed to increase temporary permits for migrants hoping to work in southern Mexico and launch a new program to bring in 15,000 to 20,000 Guatemalan laborers each year. According to the U.S. outline Mexico plans to expand this program to include Honduran as well as Salvadoran workers.
Canada will, in turn, commit to resettling additional Western Hemisphere refugees, including French-speaking Haitians. It also expects to receive 50,000 temporary workers from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean in 2022. The U.S. outline stated that Spain, an observer country at the summit, agreed on doubling the number of work visas available to Hondurans.
The U.S. committed to allocating $25 million for countries implementing new migrant legalization programs, including Costa Rica and Ecuador, and to distributing another $314 million to help displaced communities in the Western Hemisphere, including Venezuelans.
The State Department said the U.S. plans to welcome 20,000 refugees from the Western Hemisphere over the next two years, including an increased number of Haitians.
Asked by How will the U.S. ensure that all countries fulfill the agreements they have made, the official stated that the administration would maintain an “open dialog” regarding its implementation but that it “will certainly expect that all nations do their part”. “
Record numbers of migrants have been apprehended along the U.S. southern border in recent months. Since October 2021, U.S. authorities there have processed migrants approximately 1.3 million times, many of them more than once, putting that tally on track to exceed the record 1.7 million migrant arrests reported in fiscal year 2021, government data show.
U.S. border agents have continued to turn back the majority of migrant adults to Mexico or their home countries using a Trump-era pandemic-related measure known as Title 42 that a federal court prevented the Biden administration from ending. This rule prevents migrants from applying for asylum on grounds of public health.
In recent months, however, a growing number of migrants have not been processed under Title 42, requiring border officials to allow them to request asylum, a right enshrined in U.S. law and an international refugee treaty. Many of the migrants U.S. border officers have allowed to apply for asylum in recent months hail from Cuba and Nicaragua, which have strained diplomatic relations that have restricted the number of their citizens that the U.S. can deport back to their homeland countries. While the U.S.-Mexico border has seen record numbers due to a high number of crossings, officials from the Biden administration have stressed that other countries in Western Hemisphere have also been receiving large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers as part of a wider displacement crisis.
Colombia has provided temporary status to more than a million Venezuelans fleeing political repression and economic turmoil in their homeland. Costa Rica has hosted hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans.
A senior administration official stated that the U.S. is committed providing additional resources for countries hosting displaced foreigners, citing an increase in “secondary migration” of migrants in the hemisphere.
” This region has a long tradition in solidarity and welcoming one’s neighbours,” the official stated. “But, the impact of COVID as well as the Russian aggression in Ukraine are making it harder for countries to be more welcoming. “
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