Summit of the Americas promotes agreement to facilitate return of illegal immigrants | international

More opportunities for legal immigration and in return an obligation to return illegal immigrants to their countries of origin. Finally, the United States intends to depict in a joint document the reality that the region has witnessed in recent years. It is part of the content of the Los Angeles Declaration on Immigration and Protection that the leaders of American states will sign on Friday. Although the host country stresses that it does not want to stop immigration, what it intends to do with the announcement it promoted is to create new rules of the game based on what it calls “shared responsibility,” a two-sided coin. The rest of the countries, which have ceased to be mere issuers to also become destination countries for immigrants, agree with this new territorial order.

The first commitment is to promote the development of home countries to discourage immigration. Almost the entire Summit of the Americas agenda points, one way or another, in this direction. promoting a good democracy, thus avoiding refugees and exiles; economic cooperation to improve opportunities in the poorest countries; private investment and financing from multilateral organizations, improving health systems; Fighting climate change and a whole series of proposals so that there are fewer people willing to migrate.

The United States also wants to support countries in the region hosting refugees until the population is stabilized and immigration is reduced in the second round, as is the case with many Venezuelan refugees in Colombia who seek to immigrate to the United States. “The need for stability and economic support is particularly important in countries with more than six million refugees and migrants,” the White House says.

In that chapter comes the first bundle of concrete commitments. Colombia has regularized the status of more than 1.2 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants and reaffirms its commitment to raise this number to 1.5 million by the end of August 2022. Costa Rica plans to renew its system of Special Supplementary Protection for migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba that have arrived before March 2020, subject to financial resources necessary. Ecuador also has obligations to extend regularization of Venezuelan immigrants. In August 2022, Belize will launch a regularization program for Central American and Caribbean immigrants who have been living in the country for a certain period. The United States will allocate $314 million to help vulnerable refugees and migrants across the hemisphere, including assistance to more than six million Venezuelans who have fled to 17 countries in the region. Another $25 million will be used to strengthen enrollment processes and expand social services and integration programs in countries with these commitments.

Besides these regulatory efforts, to control migration flows, what the Summit of the Americas anticipates is, on the one hand, the facilitation of legal migration routes, and on the other hand, the cessation of illegal passages. A senior US government official explained that “President Biden is asking all governments along immigration routes to facilitate the processing of asylum claims in their countries, to strengthen their borders more effectively, to implement controls and to expel those who do not meet the asylum requirements.” official. Besides, the United States announced an “unprecedented campaign to disrupt and dismantle” human trafficking networks.

This statement comes at a time when the Biden administration itself is seeking to restore the asylum system that was destroyed in the four years of the Donald Trump administration. In March, Washington announced an initiative to reduce the process, which takes today, from six months to several years. Other legal avenues for immigration and refugee reception will also be opened, and they will be committed to increasing the protection of those migrants under control. This initiative, which has already been approved, is included in the commitments.

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Governments signatory to the declaration should also follow the lead of the United States and Canada, which have expanded temporary employment programs to deal with labor shortages, which “lead to higher prices,” according to Standing tall. “This is the the win [en inglés, acuerdo beneficioso para ambas partes] for North American countries,” the official added.

About a month ago, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor announced 35,000 such visas for the second half of the year. 23,500 were for immigrants who had already joined the program, but the remaining 11,500 were for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti, countries that increased their expulsion of immigrants to the north.

The declaration repackages some of those earlier commitments and includes new ones. The most active countries in facilitating legal immigration pathways are Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Canada expects to welcome more than 50,000 agricultural workers from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean in 2022 as part of its efforts to strengthen legal immigration pathways, including temporary foreign worker programs. Mexico will expand the existing border workers program to an additional 10,000 to 20,000 beneficiaries and launch a new annual temporary employment program for 15,000 to 20,000 Guatemalans. In the medium term, it intends to extend the program to Honduras and El Salvador. In addition, it will integrate 20,000 refugees into the Mexican labor market over the next three years.

There are also specific obligations to welcome refugees. The United States will commit to resettling 20,000 refugees from the Americas during fiscal years 2023 and 2024, three times the current rate. Canada will increase refugee resettlement and take in up to 4,000 people by 2028 and facilitate the arrival pathways for trained Haitians. In the case of Spain, according to information provided by the White House, the commitment is general and consists of “doubling the number of recruitment channels for Hondurans to participate in Spain’s circular immigration programs,” without elaborating.

A caravan of thousands of immigrants bound for the United States, many of them Venezuelans, passing through the Mexican state of Chiapas.Pedro Pardo (AFP)

“The Los Angeles Declaration demonstrates the commitment of the entire region to collectively move forward to meet the challenges posed by historical levels of immigration,” explained a senior US official. At the same time, the declaration aims to lay the foundations for curbing irregular migration and “disrupting and dismantling people-smuggling networks throughout Latin America”.

As Juan Gonzalez, President Joe Biden’s principal advisor on Latin America, advanced in an interview with EL PAÍS, it is a matter of strengthening laws so that there is an “orderly and dignified way” to return to their countries of origin “people who migrate irregularly and do not have a credible asylum claim” “.

In response to a question about how countries will be guaranteed compliance with these obligations for the reception of refugees, temporary migration and, in particular, the return of migrants, the senior official indicated, on the one hand, that states will bear some specific obligations this Friday, and this, on the other hand, ” This is only the beginning.” The United States will work with signatory countries to develop and implement the content.

In the case of the United States, some regular immigration channels, such as family reunification, require legal coverage. “We would like Congress to act on it. I think we see the need to expand legal channels for immigration. It will be good for our economy, good for the United States, but it will also have a direct impact on reducing irregular immigration,” said the senior official, who emphasized that the United States It wouldn’t be the only country that announced on Friday ways to expand regular immigration, “We will do everything we can within our executive authority.”

There will also be a specific initiative to support Haiti: “We recognize the need to legalize Haitian immigrants (…) We will announce decisions to help people in the face of the deteriorating security, humanitarian and security situation in the country.” In recent months, the presence of citizens of the Caribbean nation on the border between Mexico and the United States has increased by the hundreds. Indeed, besides the pillars of economic development, strengthening of legal immigration and reception channels, rejection and return of illegal immigrants, there is a fourth pillar, which is emergency response.

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