Migration pact struck in the Americas
Twenty countries from the Americas, including the US, this month signed a historic declaration committing to help and protect “all migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and stateless persons, regardless of their migratory status.”
The ‘Los Angeles Declaration’ released by the White House and signed by the heads of state of Mexico and several countries in Central and South America said that “migration should be a voluntary, informed choice and not a necessity,” and it makes the task of aiding migrants and refugees a shared responsibility among many nations.
The agreement, struck at the Summit of the Americas, would see countries such as Costa Rica and Ecuador, with proximity to nations such as Cuba and Venezuela, take in and protect more refugees from those neighbouring nations instead of having them make longer and more dangerous trips north to the US.
In turn, the US would seek funding for those countries to help refugees enter legally, to provide social services as well as ‘integration programs’ so they can stay there, saying such a move “would benefit host communities that have generously opened their doors to the most vulnerable.”
Canada agreed to welcome more refugees by 2028, including those from French-speaking nations such as Haiti. Along with the United States, Canada also agreed to welcome more agricultural workers, saying it would aim for temporary programs for foreign workers.
The United Nation refugee agency UNHCR said that it welcomed the agreement.
“The Americas region is facing a human mobility crisis that is unprecedented both in its complexity and scale. No country can address this situation on its own,” said UNHCR boss Filippo Grandi.
“The Los Angeles Declaration builds upon existing frameworks,” he continued, “and brings us closer to a continent-wide coordinated response based on the principles of international cooperation, solidarity and respect for human rights, as set out in the Global Compacts on refugees and on safe and orderly migration,” he said.
“Mixed population movements in and through the region are likely to continue, as the root causes of displacement intensify, exacerbated by the heavy toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the region’s most vulnerable people, the impact of climate change and the current global economic difficulties.
“These population movements are placing additional strain on already overstretched asylum systems, social networks and host communities. Urgent action is needed to help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that, together, host millions of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people.”
The immigration deal was one of the few positive notes at the gathering, publicly boycotted by Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who criticised the US for leaving out the leaders of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua from the hemispheric gathering.
The heads of state of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, three countries who have high migration rates to the US signed the agreement but also did not attend.