Biden hosts leaders of South American nations for summit on migration

Biden hosts leaders of South American nations for summit on migration

President Biden will host officials from 11 countries in the Western Hemisphere on Friday for a meeting designed to address the historic flow of migrants into the region by strengthening the economies of Mexico, Ecuador, Panama and other countries.

During the two-hour meeting at the White House, Biden will announce new efforts to work with the Inter-American Development Bank to help countries in the region modernize their digital and physical infrastructure and to work with countries to help entrepreneurs to start new businesses. across the hemisphere.

He will also announce initiatives to support supply chains across the region in areas such as clean energy, semiconductors and medical supplies, helping countries in the Americas reduce their dependence on from China and other countries around the world.

The goal, administration officials say, is to help boost the economies of countries in the region so they can better absorb the millions of migrants fleeing poverty, political instability and natural disasters in the neighboring countries.

Dealing with the impact of migration at the border with Mexico has been one of Mr. Biden’s biggest challenges since taking office in early 2021. A record number of migrants have tried to enter the United States illegally. United States, many of whom come from Venezuela and other troubled countries. .

Republicans have seized on the issue as one of their main attacks on Mr. Biden’s administration. They say the president has not been tough enough on the border and have accused the White House of endangering U.S. national security by not employing tougher measures to stop people from entering the border. country.

But the president’s fight to keep migrants out has also created division and anger among Democratic officials in states where the cost of caring for migrants is straining their budgets. Republican governors in Texas and Florida have bused thousands of migrants to Democratic-run cities to highlight the problem.

Democratic mayors from several of the largest U.S. cities traveled to Washington on Thursday to urge White House officials and lawmakers to do more to allow migrants to work legally in the country.

“All of the newcomers arriving in our cities are looking for a work opportunity, and every day we receive calls from business leaders who have unfilled jobs and want to hire these newcomers,” the mayors wrote to Mr. Biden . “The only obstacle preventing us from helping them help themselves is federal restrictions on work authorization. »

Last month, Mr. Biden took steps to increase the number of migrants who can legally work in the United States. But White House officials said Friday’s meeting was an opportunity to work on longer-term efforts that could minimize the number of migrants trying to come to the United States.

Mr. Biden announced the creation of the Partnership of the Americas for Economic Prosperity at a summit of regional leaders in Los Angeles in summer 2022. Members of the Partnership of the Americas include Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. , Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.

White House officials said Friday that Mexico and Panama would be represented by their foreign ministers. The leaders of the other nine countries will be at the White House.

Several of the countries whose senior officials are participating in Friday’s meeting have already welcomed many migrants fleeing Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti or other struggling economies. A White House official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because the meeting had not yet taken place, said Mr. Biden wanted to reward those countries with additional economic aid.

The official said that when other countries welcome migrants from the region, it eases the burden on the United States. The goal of Friday’s meeting, the official said, is to help these countries do more in this direction.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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