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06-2022

Biden, fellow US leaders reach migration deal despite strife

Biden hosts a dinner at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) – President Joe Biden and other Western Hemisphere leaders are set to announce Friday what is being billed as a roadmap for countries to host large numbers of migrants and refugees.

The “Los Angeles Declaration” is perhaps the greatest achievement of the Americas summit, minus the differences on Biden’s invitation list. The leaders of Mexico and several Central American countries sent top diplomats after the US ousted Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

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A set of principles to be announced on Friday, the last day of the summit, include legal routes to enter countries, aid to communities most affected by migration, humanitarian border management and coordinated emergency response, according to a senior US official. , who briefed reporters ahead of an official announcement. ,

It is a blueprint already being largely followed by Colombia and Ecuador, whose right-wing leaders have warmly welcomed many of the 6 million people who left Venezuela in recent years to the summit. went.

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso last week announced a temporary status quo for Venezuela in his country, which is estimated to be around 500,000. He said in a panel discussion on Tuesday that his country is paying off the generosity of Spain and the United States to welcome the large number of Ecuadorians who fled more than two decades ago.

Colombian President Ivan Duque stood in an appearance on Thursday to describe how his government has granted temporary status to 1 million Venezuelans over the past 14 months and is processing another 800,000 applications.

“We did it with conviction, he said he could not be indifferent to Venezuelans who lost their homes and livelihoods and were ready to suffer in approval ratings,” Duke told the Associated Press.

“They were invisible (in Colombia),” he said. “They couldn’t open bank accounts, they couldn’t work, they couldn’t get health care. They were practically a community with no future.”

While the measures are not universally popular, Venezuelans have assimilated without any major backlash.

“The two most dangerous phenomena are xenophobia and apathy, and I believe we have managed to win both (in Colombia),” Duque said.

The United States has been the most popular destination for asylum seekers since 2017, a challenge that has stunned Biden and his immediate predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

But America is far from alone. Colombia and neighboring South American countries host millions of people who have fled Venezuela. Mexico filed more than 130,000 asylum applications last year, many of them Haitians, a triple that of 2020. Many Nicaraguans fled to Costa Rica, while displaced Venezuelans make up about one-sixth of the population of smaller Aruba.

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyerkas said on Thursday that the summit’s announcement acknowledged the regional dimensions of migration.

“It’s a hemispherical challenge,” he said in an interview, setting aside Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica for hosting large numbers of migrants.

The responses of Colombia and Ecuador cannot be replicated, said Jose Samnigo, the US regional director for the UN refugee agency. Each country is different, and migration from Central America is more complicated than in Venezuela.

“You don’t want to copy and paste,” he said, “but there are good practices.”

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