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Biden unveils ‘Los Angeles Declaration’ to address regional migration

A new set of measures was rolled out on Friday to address the regional migration crisis by US President Joe Biden and his fellow Western Hemisphere leaders, seeking to salvage a divisive Americas summit.

Biden aides had featured the declaration on migration as a centerpiece of the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas, and 20 countries joined him for a ceremony to unveil the plan, though several more stayed away. difference.

To cap off the last day of the summit, the White House promoted a series of programs for migrants agreed by countries of the hemisphere and Spain, present as observers, which promised a more cooperative approach. But analysts were skeptical that the pledges are significant enough to make a meaningful difference.

These measures include the United States and Canada pledging to welcome more guests, providing pathways for people from poorer countries to work in wealthier countries, and other countries agreeing to greater protections for migrants. Mexico will also accept more Central American workers, according to a White House statement.

“We are transforming our approach to managing migration in the Americas,” Biden said. “Each of us makes commitments that recognize the challenges we all share.”

Flags from 20 countries, several fewer than the number of attendees at the summit, adorned the stage where Biden led the deployment. But this figure was reached only after days of American pressure.

It was another sign of tensions that marred the summit, undermining Biden’s efforts to reassert American leadership and counter China’s growing economic footprint in the region.

That message has been clouded by a boycott by several leaders, including Mexico’s president, to protest Washington’s exclusion of left-wing US antagonists Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. The list has been narrowed down to 21 visiting heads of state and government.

The administration, faced with a record flow of illegal migrants at its southern border, pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Venezuelan migrants, renewed processing of family visas for Cubans and Haitians, and facilitated the hiring of Central American workers.

The announcements were part of the unveiling of the US-led pact dubbed the “Los Angeles Declaration” and aimed at spreading responsibility across the region for containing the migration problem.

The plan culminates in a summit aimed at restoring American influence among its southern neighbors after years of relative neglect under former President Donald Trump. Biden has offered an economic partnership to help the region’s pandemic recovery — though that appears to be a work in progress.

Jorge Castaneda, Mexico’s former foreign minister, said the Americas’ pledges should allow Washington to argue that it had secured major commitments, a forbidden national “more politics.” But he added: “Basically, there’s nothing here.”

Mexico, whose border with the United States is the main point of migration, supported the declaration, despite the non-presentation of Lopez Obrador.

The absence from the summit of the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the Northern Triangle from which many migrants come – has raised doubts about the effectiveness of the pledges. US officials have insisted that participation has not prevented Washington from getting results.

The declaration encompasses commitments from a range of countries, including Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Belize and Ecuador. There was no mention, however, of pledges from Brazil, Latin America’s most populous nation.

The announcement did not include any US promise of additional work visas for Mexicans. It would be part of Lopez Obrador’s visit with Biden next month, an official said.

Spain has pledged to “double the number of work lanes” for Hondurans, the White House has said. Madrid’s temporary work program has 250 Hondurans, suggesting only a small increase is on the cards.

The fight against irregular migration is a priority for Biden. Republicans, seeking to regain control of Congress in the November election, pilloried the Democratic president for overturning Republican Trump’s restrictive immigration policies.

But migration has had to compete with Biden’s other major challenges, including high inflation, mass shootings and the war in Ukraine.

[with inputs from agencies]

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