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Saturday, July 2, 2022

America’s summit: Biden’s effort to unify region on migration gets off to a shaky start

The 9th US summit, hosted by Joe Biden in Los Angeles from June 6 to 10, was influenced by the US president’s decision not to invite the presidents of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. The reason for this was the undemocratic leadership and disrespect for human rights in those countries. But you can question this exclusion if you believe that core democratic principles include freedom of association, speech and inclusion.

In his remarks at the summit’s inaugural session, Biden stressed on various occasions the importance of working together and cooperation between North, Central and South America when dealing with regional issues such as the economic, climate and migration crisis. But the decision to exclude the three countries prompted several other leaders to boycott the event in solidarity. Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), as well as the presidents of El Salvador (Nayab Bukele), Honduras (Xiomara Castro) and Guatemala (Alejandro Giammattei), also skipped the event.

Mexico is an interesting case. After a rocky start, AMLO managed to forge a friendly relationship with Donald Trump during his time in the White House. But he didn’t have such an easy relationship with Biden. This may seem counter-intuitive when you consider that Trump had a zero-tolerance migration policy, while Biden wants to introduce a more humane immigration system.

AMLO’s respect for Trump was mirrored by Latino voters in the 2020 presidential election in which he held the border state of Texas and Florida, US states with high populations of Latinos, primarily Mexican-Americans and Cuban and Venezuelan-Americans, respectively. Were living

new economic plan

Biden used the summit to launch a new economic partnership plan, “America’s Partnership for Economic Prosperity.” The aim, he said, would be to develop economies from bottom to top: to develop innovation, strengthen supply chains and prioritize the development of a green economy with jobs in the production of clean energy and protecting biodiversity.

Biden also announced his plans to tackle corruption in the region and promote the rule of law, partnering with Latin American countries to fight powerful international criminal organizations, drug traffickers and the illegal arms trade. The collaboration will also aim to improve health care provision and increase food production across the region. In short, the idea is to improve the quality and security of life in Latin America to such an extent that illegal migration to the US is reduced as people enjoy better conditions in their own countries.

Experts are divided

At face value, so far, so positive. But Tony Payne, director of the Center for the United States and Mexico at Rice University in Texas, believes the plans outlined at the summit are far less likely to have the desired effect, especially when it comes to migration. He believes that the Western Hemisphere is too politically divided and chaotic to make any real progress in these areas. Payne told me: “For now, no matter how good the announcements are, their words will fade with little or no achievement.”

The traditional ‘family photo’: but several important members are missing.
EPA-EFE/David Swanson/Pool

On the other hand, Andrew Seely, president of the Migration Policy Institute, believes that the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, a declaration signed by 20 countries at the end of the summit, is “an important step in creating a common language. And A coherent set of ideas for managing migration movements across America more cooperatively”.

Will this work?

The goal of the Los Angeles Declaration is to control and regulate an unauthorized migration through the American continent with a shared responsibility among all countries. It suggests some concrete metrics as to the goal of the program. For example, the US will invest US$314 million (£260 million) in humanitarian aid for vulnerable refugees and migrants. In addition, the US has promised to accept 20,000 more refugees over the next two years. An additional US$65 million will be used to promote temporary work among Haitian and Central American temporary workers.

The Los Angeles Declaration talks about possible solutions to migration not only in the US, but also among Latin American countries. Mexico, which was attended by Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, has pledged to include 20,000 refugees from Central America and Haiti in its labor market. By the end of August 2022, Colombia will provide regularization permits to 1.5 million refugees and Venezuelan migrants.

But the declaration also has its limits. Executive Director of the Supporters of the Diaspora Foundation America Sin Muroso (America Without Walls), Bernardo Méndez-Lugo, told me that he thinks American money and increased working visas will not be enough for the millions of needy immigrants who take the illegal path to a better life. He also pointed out that the agreement does not specify how the US will legalize the status of the 5 million irregular Mexican immigrants or the 2 million irregular immigrants from Central American countries already in the US. Nothing has been decided to resolve the situation of the 600,000 “dreamers” – the children of illegal immigrants who grew up in the US or the hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans with temporary protected status in the US.

So while the announcement is undoubtedly a step towards solving the migration crisis in the US, the commitment will need to be followed up with concrete action from across the region. It will bear fruit only when all the countries are united. And, of course, the absence of key players in the issue from the summit is not a good sign that the US is on the same page when it comes to solving the irregular migration crisis.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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