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LATIN AMERICA | 06-06-2022 13:23

United States, Latin America are developing migration pact to address surge

The United States, Latin America and Caribbean nations are working on a pact to reduce and manage undocumented migration that they will announce at a summit this week as the Joe Biden administration faces a surge in arrivals.

The United States, Latin America and Caribbean nations are working on a pact to reduce and manage undocumented migration that they will announce at a summit this week as the Joe Biden administration faces a surge in arrivals.

The group is discussing commitments to provide financial support for nations dealing with an influx of migrants, improving cooperation on controlling flows and providing legal jobs, according to a draft of a joint declaration being reviewed by participants and seen by Bloomberg News.

The declaration, while written by US officials, is the result of months of work to build consensus among countries in the region and incorporates their input, according to people familiar with the plan, who asked not to be identified without permission to speak publicly. 

The document is still under negotiation, and it isn’t clear if all nations attending the summit will sign on, since not all are affected by migration in the same way, the people said. 

The commitment is intended to be one of the deliverables from the Summit of the Americas for western hemisphere nations that US President Joe Biden is hosting in Los Angeles. The declaration is part of a larger focus on regional economic, health and food security issues that will be discussed at the summit, the people said. 

Bloomberg News reported last month that the Biden administration is working on an economic framework that will address subjects including so-called nearshoring and supply-chain vulnerabilities revealed by the pandemic, seeking to set a new course for integration with the region.

The White House and US State Department press offices declined to comment.

The proposed pledges also include improving access to public and private services for migrants, refugees, and stateless persons to promote their full social and economic inclusion in host communities, according to the document.

Public attention in the lead-up to the summit has focused more on who’s coming than the actual substance.

While leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and others are scheduled to attend the gathering, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had said he planned to skip it unless the US invites all countries. 

The Biden administration decided against including the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua based on concerns about their lack of democracy and respect for human rights.

The summit comes as US authorities encountered more than 230,000 undocumented migrants on its almost 2,000-mile border with Mexico in April alone. Arrivals in recent months have soared to the highest level in two decades, according to US Customs and Border Protection. 

Cooperation is key as many migrants either come from South America, Central America and Mexico or transit there as they make their way to the US.

The US and Mexico have been in negotiations in recent days to try to secure López Obrador’s attendance. Should he miss the summit, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard would represent the nation.

To confront the challenges, summit participants would convene multilateral development banks, international financial institutions and new donors to review ways to support countries hosting migrants, according to the document. 

Nations would improve regional cooperation mechanisms for law enforcement, information sharing and border management, visa regimes and regularisation processes, it said.

They also would commit to strengthening and expanding temporary labor migration pathways – a point that has been championed by López Obrador. That includes using new programmes that promote connections between employers and migrant workers.

by Eric Martin, Bloomberg

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