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Biden and Latin American Leaders to Announce Migration Deal

LOS ANGELES — President Biden and the leaders of several Latin American countries on Friday were to unveil a new agreement to face migration, including specific numerical pledges to allow more people fleeing desperate political and economic situations to cross their borders. stiches.

The agreement, called the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, obliges the United States to take in 20,000 refugees from Latin America over the next two years, a threefold increase, according to White House officials. Biden also pledges to increase the number of seasonal worker visas from Central America and Haiti by 11,500.

In return, other countries would step up efforts to let migrants in before they reach the United States. Mexico will hire as many as 20,000 additional temporary workers and start a new program for up to 20,000 people from Guatemala who are looking for work.

Canada pledges to take in 4,000 refugees from America by 2028. Spain promises to double the number of migrant workers it accepts. Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil will all step up their efforts to deal with the overwhelming influx of refugees fleeing political instability in Venezuela.

Taken together, the promises are a testimony to the magnitude of the migration problem in the Western Hemisphere, where poverty, political instability, natural disasters and violence have caused millions of people to flee their homes in search of work, shelter and safety. As part of the deal, the United States has also committed to another effort to crack down on people smuggling; in the past two months, the Department of Homeland Security has quickly dispatched more than 1,300 people to the region, officials said.

It is an attempt by Mr. Biden to deal with the repeated influx of migrants at the US border by portraying them as a problem for the entire region, not just the United States. But the effort has been undermined by the boycott of the summit by Mexico and the countries of the Northern Triangle. And the document underlines the limits of cooperation on one of the most difficult topics for the countries of the region.

Several key countries refused to sign the agreement or make any commitments, including El Salvador and Honduras, two countries in Central America’s northern triangle that are major contributors to the migratory flow to the United States and elsewhere.

The countries that intend to sign have pledged to accept a small fraction of the number of people who leave their homes to seek a life elsewhere. About six million displaced Venezuelans have fled the economic and political turmoil of their home countries in the past five years, including to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Central Americans dealing with gang violence and climate change have sought a fresh start in both Mexico and the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans targeted by a crackdown on dissent have moved to Costa Rica, where about 10 percent of the population is made up of refugees.

The countries’ commitments in the statement – if they materialize at all – will span years, not days or weeks. And the effects will almost certainly not be felt in the short term, as the United States and other countries face immediate crises as their borders.

A senior government official told reporters Thursday evening that Biden never expected all countries in the region to sign the agreement, but the official did not directly address those who refused.

“There are certain countries that, I think, are feeling the pain and recognizing the value of coming together, working towards sharing responsibility and progress – exploring new tools that we can use to better control the situation,” the official said. who requested anonymity to discuss the agreement before it was made public.

“We never aimed to have all countries in the Western Hemisphere,” the official said.

The issue of migration has been a fraught one for Biden almost since the day he took office. Within months, a wave of families and unaccompanied children trying to enter the United States overwhelmed border facilities, raising questions about the government’s efforts to ease restrictions imposed by its predecessor.

Facing an increased influx of migrants and legal challenges, Mr. Biden enforced some of former President Donald J. Trump’s toughest measures, including a public health restriction on entry and a policy that has many asylum seekers waiting in filthy condition. camps in Mexico while their case is being heard.

That has sparked strong criticism from some of Biden’s most staunch allies, who say the president must live up to the promises he made during the presidential campaign to end Trump-era programs. .

But the president also continues to be the target of attacks from Republicans, who accuse him of being too lenient at the border and encouraging the migrants by being more hospitable than Mr Trump was.

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