Twenty American countries, including the United States, Mexico and several Central American nations, joined this Friday in a declaration with concrete commitments to contain the migration crisis in the region.
The signing ceremony of the so-called ‘Declaration of Los Angeles on migration and protection’ was led by the US president, Joe Biden, during the last day of the IX Summit of the Americas, which brings together leaders from across the continent in that city Californian.
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“No nation should assume this responsibility alone,” said Biden, who stressed that not only is irregular migration going to the United States increasing, but that “millions” of Venezuelans have arrived in Colombia and that migrants now represent “the 10 % of the population of Costa Rica”.
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To alleviate the pressure generated by these flows, the signatory countries committed themselves -among other things- to expanding the opportunities to migrate legally to contain the arrival of undocumented immigrants at the southern border of the United States, which continues to increase.
“We need to stop the dangerous and illegal ways people are migrating. Illegal migration is not acceptable, and we are going to secure our borders,” Biden said.
The declaration was signed by the United States, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
Among those who did not sign it are three countries of origin of many of the undocumented migrants who cross the continent: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which the US government decided not to invite to the Summit of the Americas because it considers that they are not democratic.
As part of the agreement, the United States will host 20,000 refugees from Latin America in 2023 and 2024, and will disburse $314 million in aid for migrants in the region.while Mexico will double border work permits.
The United States is committed to opening the doors to 20,000 people, that is, triple
of refugees welcomed this year, reports the White House in a statement.
The government of President Joe Biden also intends to “increase” the reception
of Haitian refugees, but does not give figures, and will grant 11,500 temporary work visas to citizens of Haiti and Central America due to the shortage of labor in the United States.
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On the other hand, he announced 314 million dollars in new funds for “humanitarian aid and development assistance for refugees and vulnerable migrants” in Latin America, which includes a program for Venezuelans who have emigrated to 17 countries in the region.
According to the statement on the Declaration of Los Angeles, Mexico will increase the number of Border Worker Cards from 10,000 to 20,000, which allows residing in one State and working in another.
The Mexican government will also launch a new temporary work program for between 15,000 and 20,000 people from Guatemala per year, and plans to expand it to Honduras and El Salvador in the medium term.
In addition, with the support of the UN Refugee Agency, it will integrate 20,000 refugees into the Mexican labor market in the next three years.
Belize will launch a regularization plan for irregular migrants, Costa Rica will renew a temporary protection program for Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans, and Ecuador issues a decree establishing a way to grant regular immigration status to Venezuelans who entered the country through
from an official port of entry.
Guatemala approves, for its part, a new legislation to promote programs
of legal labor migration and Canada will open its borders to 50,000 workers in the agricultural sector, the statement said.
Biden particularly appreciated the commitments made by Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Canada and Spain, country that participated in the summit as an observer, represented by the Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela.
The Ecuadorian president, Guillermo Lasso, also spoke at the event, emphasizing the need to promote “an integral development agenda that has the human being at its center.”
“It is urgent to promote development opportunities in countries of origin, on the one hand, and on the other, promote actions to identify and dismantle the international mafias that control irregular migration,” he stressed.
Plan to fight against migrant smuggling
The United States also revealed this Friday that it has launched an “unprecedented” covert operation to dismantle human trafficking networks throughout Latin America and thus contain irregular migration heading towards the southern US border.
“In the last two months, the United States, under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security, has deployed more than 1,300 personnel throughout the region and invested more than $50 million (in the covert operation),” he said. the White House in a statement.
Until the end of May, these agents have carried out some 20,000 measures to disrupt migrant smuggling networks, including “arrests and prosecutions, confiscation of properties such as houses and vehicles used to traffic people, and criminal investigations,” according to the official note. .
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that this has caused “900 fewer migrants to arrive at the southern border of the United States each day,” and assures that its efforts have only just begun.
The United States is coordinating the operation with the Government of Mexico, in addition to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in an interview with CNN.
Criticism at the Summit
The list of countries invited to this summit lit the fuse of discord, given that the Biden government chose to exclude Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela.
In response, some countries, championed by Mexico, decided to boycott it, such as Bolivia and Honduras.
Others participate in the meeting, but as spokespersons for those who cannot come or to express their demands.
In the first plenary session on Thursday, Argentine President Alberto Fernández stood up to Biden speaking as president pro tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), to which the three excluded by the United States belong.
“The fact of being the host country of the Summit does not grant the ability to impose the right of admission“, said.
Belizean Prime Minister John Briceño joined the protest. “This summit belongs to all of the Americas. Therefore, it is inexcusable that all the countries of the Americas are not here,” he blurted out.
Added to the protest over exclusions, according to Argentina, is the need to “rebuild institutions that were designed” for integration.
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“The OAS, if it wants to be respected and return to being the regional political platform for which it was created, must be restructured, immediately dispensing with those who lead it” currently, he stated, in tune with Mexico’s criticism of the secretary general of this organization, Luis Almagro.
Disgusted by the exclusions, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not attend the summit and sent Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard instead, who took the opportunity to describe the absences as a “strategic error” and advocate “refounding the inter-American order.”
In addition to the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, political commitment projects on democratic governance, health and resilience, climate change and environmental sustainability, clean energy transition and digital transformation will be adopted at the summit.
*With information from AFP and EFE
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