LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden and other Western hemisphere leaders on Friday took new steps to address the regional migration crisis.
Biden’s aides said the relocation announcement was part of a US summit hosted by the United States, and that 20 countries had joined him in formally unveiling the plan – many more were absent.
On the eve of the final day of the summit, the White House announced a series Immigrant Projects approved by countries across the hemisphere and Spain, attend as an observer, which promised a very cooperative approach. But analysts were skeptical that the promises were meaningful enough to make a significant difference.
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Those measures include the US and Canada taking more guest workers, providing avenues for poorer nations to work in richer countries, and other countries acknowledging greater protection for immigrants. According to a White House report, Mexico will accept more Central American workers.
“We are changing our approach to managing migration in the United States,” Biden said. “We each sign a commitment to recognize the challenges we all share.”
Flags of 20 countries, less than the number of attendees at the summit, graced the stage leading to the Biden Rollout. But that number was reached only after several days of US pressure.
This is another sign of the tensions that have eroded the summit, which has undermined Biden’s efforts to re – establish US leadership and counter China’s growing economic embargo on the region.
The news was obscured by Washington’s withdrawal of US left – wing rivals Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and by the boycott of several leaders, including the president of Mexico. The queue for the 21 visiting state and government leaders was thin.
The administration, in the face of a record influx of illegal immigrants on its southern border, pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Venezuelan immigrants, renewing family-based visas for Cubans and Haitians, and facilitating the hiring of Central American workers. read more
These announcements are part of the release of the US-led agreement known as the “Los Angeles Declaration” and are aimed at spreading responsibility across the region to control the migration problem.
The plan concludes a summit designed to re-establish US influence among its southern neighbors after years of relative boycott under former President Donald Trump. Biden proposed an economic partnership to help the region recover from the epidemic – although it appears to be in progress.
But at the opening of the summit on Thursday, Argentine and small Belize leaders denounced Biden on the guest list, underscoring the challenge facing the world power in restoring its status among poor neighbors.
On Friday, Chile, Bolivia, the Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda joined the review, although Biden did not attend.
“No one should be excluded from another country,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrat said from the platform of President Andres Manuel Lpez Obrador.
This week’s sessions followed the parade of American composer John Philip Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell”, which was popularized by the classic British comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”.
U.S. officials persuaded skeptical governments to back the plan until the last minute.
The leaders pledged in the declaration to “strengthen national, regional and hemispherical efforts to create conditions for safe, orderly, humanitarian and regular displacement.”
Standing alongside fellow leaders, Biden stressed that “illegal immigration is not acceptable” and expressed hope that other countries would join the program.
Eric Olson, policy director at the Seattle International Foundation, called the announcement an “effective framework” but said it would have limited short-term effects because it was unrestricted.
Some of the initiatives listed by the White House have already been announced. Biden’s aides have proposed part of the immigration plan to help reduce the U.S. labor deficit.
Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda should allow US pledges to argue that Washington has been given key responsibilities, which is a domestic “political plus” for Biden. But he added: “In a sense, there’s nothing here.”
Mexico, its border with the United States is a key point for migration – despite Lopez Obrador’s no-show, it supported the declaration.
The non-attendance of the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – many immigrants from the Northern Triangle – has raised doubts about the effectiveness of the pledges. U.S. officials have insisted that the vote does not preclude Washington from obtaining results.
The declaration includes a series of pledges from countries including Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Belize and Ecuador. However, nothing is mentioned about the pledges of Brazil, the most populous country in Latin America.
This announcement contains no U.S. guarantees for additional work visas for Mexicans. It will be part of Lopez Obrador’s visit with Biden next month, an official said.
Spain has pledged to “double the number of labor routes” for Hondurans, the White House said. Madrid’s provisional work plan has added 250 hondurans, with only a small increase expected.
Preventing irregular displacement is a priority for Biden. Republicans seeking to regain control of Congress in the November election have urged Republican President Trump to change Trump’s restricted immigration policies.
But relocation had to compete with Biden’s other major challenges, including high inflation, mass shootings and the war in Ukraine.
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Report by Humeyra Pamuk, Daina Beth Solomon, Dave Graham, Matt Spetalnick, Trevor Hunnicutt, Lisanda Paraguassu and Ted Hesson; Written by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Jonathan Odyssey, Alistair Bell and Grant McCool
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