President Joe Biden, flanked by the leaders of several countries, announced the Los Angeles Declaration of Migration and Protection on the final day of the Summit of the Americas on Friday.
The declaration was signed by 20 countries, each pledging to address different aspects of migration.
Biden attributed migration across the Western Hemisphere to the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and climate change.
“Right now, migrants account for up to 10% of Costa Rica’s population.” And, in my opinion, no nation should bear this responsibility alone,” he said.
Many of the declaration’s commitments specifically address expanding temporary worker programs. This year, Canada has agreed to accept over 50,000 agricultural workers from Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean. To address labor shortages, Mexico and Guatemala have also agreed to expand migrant labor programs.
Ecuador has issued a decree to establish a pathway to regular migration status for Venezuelans who entered legally through a port of entry but are now illegally in the country.
At home, the Biden Administration has made its own pledges, including $300 million in humanitarian aid for countries “so that when migrants arrive on their doorstep, they can provide a place to stay, make sure migrants can see a doctor, and find opportunities to work, so they don’t have to undertake the dangerous journey north.”
The continuation of the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies has shaken the Biden Administration.
Unprecedented migration rates and piecemeal approaches to stemming the flow have resulted in large groups congregating at ports of entry such as Del Rio, Texas. However, the president stated today that controlling migration is a responsibility shared by all Western hemisphere nations. Possibly in response to Republican accusations that he is “soft on immigration,” the president assured that the declaration includes a commitment to strengthen border security as well as the administration’s intention to expand a multilateral “sting operation” aimed at disrupting human trafficking in Latin America.
“We are coming for you if you profit from desperate and vulnerable migrants.” “We’re coming for you,” Biden declared.
The United States Department of Agriculture will launch a $65 million pilot program to provide grants to farmers who hire seasonal agricultural workers.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, the administration failed to lift Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allows the government to quickly deport migrants without giving them a chance to apply for asylum. A federal judge last month blocked the administration from repealing the rule on May 23.
According to immigration advocates and lawyers, black asylum seekers bear the brunt of these hardline policies, as they face discrimination at our border and on their journey.
Photos of Border Patrol agents on horseback aggressively apprehending Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, sparked outrage and a lawsuit on behalf of some of those detained that day in September.
In the Declaration, the president has outlined several initiatives aimed specifically at Haitian migrants, including resuming participation in the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, which allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for parole for relatives in Haiti. The United States will also issue 11,500 H-2B visas to nonagricultural seasonal workers from Central America and Haiti.
According to Nana Gyamfi, Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the initiatives outlined in the declaration deny Haitian migrants the right to seek asylum wherever they feel safe. Gyamfi also believes it fails to address institutional racism, which prevents Black asylum seekers from seeking refuge throughout the hemisphere.
The announcement of the Declaration comes as some of the controversy surrounding notable absences from the Summit threatened to overshadow the administration’s collaborative work on issues such as climate change, recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic, and migration.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei boycotted the summit in protest of the administration’s decision not to invite leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
During a plenary session, Belize’s Prime Minister, Johnny Briceo, slammed the president from a few feet away for his “incomprehensible” and “un-American” exclusion of Cuba and Venezuela.