LOS ANGELES — The United States and Latin American countries on Friday plan to issue a joint declaration at the Americas summit, committing nations across the region to receive migrants and provide avenues for them to secure humanitarian protection and earn a living, according to US officials who publicly spoke of the plans Thursday.
The American public and politicians have for decades focused on the large influx of migrants crossing the southern border into the United States, but ever-growing numbers of migrants have been pouring into countries across the Western Hemisphere.
“Unpreceded and historic rates of migration are affecting the entire region. It’s now not just the United States,” Clayton Alderman, director for regional migration and protection with the National Security Council, said at a panel in Los Angeles held alongside the official summit.
Mr. Alderman and others described the planned directive as the “Los Angeles Declaration” on migration, and it is expected to include Spain and Canada, in addition to the Latin American countries.
Anne Knapke, a senior official with the US Department of Agriculture, said that the declaration would expand labor programs to bring Central Americans to the United States as guest workers. Other countries, including Spain, are expected to make similar commitments.
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About six million displaced Venezuelans have fled the economic and political turmoil of their home country in the last five years, to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, among other countries. Central Americans facing gang violence and climate change have sought fresh starts in Mexico as well as the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans targeted by a crackdown on dissent have moved to Costa Rica.
“It looks very different if you look at migration across the hemisphere rather than standing on the US-Mexico border, which is what the United States has tried to do for the last 30 years,” said Dan Restrepo, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who served as adviser to President Barack Obama on Latin America.
“One of the important things at the Summit of the Americas this week is that it goes from looking at migration as something to control at the borders to something to manage throughout the hemisphere,” he said.
President Biden on Wednesday announced US measures designed to help other nations. They include training medical professionals to improve health care in the Western Hemisphere, increasing food exports and attracting more private investment.
“These challenges affect all of us,” Mr. Biden said in his opening remarks at the summit. “All of our nations have a responsibility to step up and ease the pressure people are feeling today.”
Colombia is offering protected status and work permits to nearly two million Venezuelans. Lucas Gomez, the presidential envoy on migration in Colombia, said that it is time to discuss migration differently, from border-centric policies to policies designed to absorb migrants in host countries.
President Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador said at a summit migration event that there needs to be a “recognition of a reality” that people are on the move and that “inclusive policies” must be promoted to ensure they find safe haven and can thrive outside their homelands .
“As a poor country, we are opening our doors,” he said, referring to more than 500,000 Venezuelans living in Ecuador who have required medical care, education and other support.
Only three out of 10 Ecuadoreans have a job in the formal sector, he highlighted, and, like many other developing countries, its economy has been battered by the coronavirus epidemic.