20 countries of the Americas coordinate to reduce irregular migration

By Lucia Leal

Los Angeles, US, Jun 10 (EFE).- Twenty American countries pledged Friday to expand opportunities to migrate legally and strengthen regional cooperation to contain the growing arrival of undocumented immigrants at the border of the United States and other countries, such as Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

The so-called Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, a kind of continental code of conduct on migration issues, was signed in a ceremony presided over by United States President Joe Biden on the last day of the IX Summit of the Americas, held in the Californian capital.

“No nation should bear this responsibility alone,” Biden said.

Twenty countries signed the text, including the US, Mexico and four nations from which many of the undocumented migrants trying to reach US territory originate: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti.

It was also signed by most of the transit and destination countries of many Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Haitian migrants who have traveled the continent in recent years: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Canada, Jamaica and Barbados.

However, three origin countries of many undocumented migrants did not sign the declaration: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which the US government did not to invite to the Summit of the Americas because it considers that they are not democratic.

The White House promoted the declaration to improve the way in which responsibilities are shared for irregular migration flows amid records in the number of arrivals of undocumented immigrants to the southern US border, an issue that generates political pressure for Biden at the internal level.

Biden’s message at the signing ceremony was resounding: his priority is to “halt the dangerous and unlawful ways people are migrating.”

“Unlawful migration is not acceptable, and we’ll secure our borders, including through innovative, coordinated actions with our regional partners,” warned the president, who has received criticism for keeping the so-called Title 42 standing, a rapid expulsion measure implemented under pandemic protocols.

Although Biden announced this year his intention to lift the regulation, a federal judge has forced him to keep it in force for now, and although it prevents most border arrivals from seeking asylum, the flow has only increased, with a caravan of more than 15,000 people making its way this week through southern Mexico.

The signatory countries will strengthen and expand migration routes through temporary work programs, in addition to family reunification programs and the regularization of migrants, with some specific commitments.

Mexico will launch a new temporary work program to give opportunities to between 15,000 and 20,000 workers from Guatemala each year, with the intention of expanding it in the medium term to also include Honduras and El Salvador.

In addition, Mexico will integrate 20,000 refugees into the formal labor market within the next three years, with the support of the United Nations refugee agency.

Canada plans to receive more than 50,000 agricultural workers from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean this year.

The US also committed to expanding its quota of refugees from the Americas to 20,000 for 2023 and 2024, with special priority for Haitians, and announced $314 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans inside and outside their country.

Costa Rica promised to renew the special temporary protection status for migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba who had arrived before March 2020.

Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lasso said that it is an urgent matter 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.

The declaration was well received by experts and defenders of migrant rights, although the International Rescue Committee stressed in a statement that it is “unclear how these commitments will be monitored and evaluated.”

“Without long-term funding and political will to protect those displaced throughout the region, the IRC is fearful that the Declaration’s intentions will fall flat and leave millions of people in the Americas behind,” it said. EFE

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