LOS ANGELES – President Joe Biden previewed a new migration initiative during the opening of the Ninth Summit of the Americas, calling it a mutual commitment to orderly migration throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The Los Angeles Declaration on Migration is an “integrated approach to manage migration,” Biden said, noting the initiative creates shared responsibility for handling the migration crisis across the Americas.
“That’s what this is all about: responding to basic human desires that we share, for dignity, for safety, for security,” he said. “When those basics are absent in one place, that’s when people make the desperate decision to seek them elsewhere. All of our nations have a responsibility to step up and ease the pressure people are feeling today.”
Biden didn’t go into detail about how the initiative will work but said the initiative would deter criminals and human traffickers, and he emphasized that “unlawful migration is not acceptable.”
“And we will enforce our borders, including through innovative, coordinated action with our regional partners,” the president said.
In the Yuma and Tucson sectors of Arizona’s border with Mexico, Customs and Border Patrol encountered more than 52,000 migrants attempting to enter the country in April, the most recent data available – a 54% increase from a year ago.
The U.S. isn’t the only country struggling to handle the growing migration crisis.
Before the summit began, a migration caravan departed Tapachula, Mexico, headed for the U.S. border more than 1,500 miles north. Shortly after its departure, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced he would not attend the summit because the Biden administration did not invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Luis García Villagrán, an activist following the caravan, told The Associated Press the caravan is a message to the leaders gathered for the summit. Migrant families, he said, are not bargaining chips to be used for political interests.
Biden also announced the creation of a new economic partnership. America’s Partnership for Economic Prosperity is aimed at helping “economies grow from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down” after the hit they’ve taken from COVID-19.
Biden said he hoped the initiatives will enhance regional stability and create opportunities for safe migration.
“Safe and orderly migration is good for all of our economies, including the United States. It can be a catalyst for sustainable growth,” he said.
Biden and other leaders are expected to sign the migration declaration on Friday, the last day of the summit, which was inaugurated in 1994 and meets every few years to address the region’s challenges.