Migrants from Central and South America exit their raft onto an island in the middle of the Rio Grande near Roma, Texas, June 11. CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters

Americas summit ends with immigration deal

By  Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service
  • June 15, 2022

WASHINGTON -- Twenty countries from the Americas, including Canada, signed a declaration June 10, the last day of the troubled Summit of the Americas, committing to help and protect “all migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons, regardless of their migratory status.”

The statement 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 effort asks that 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 U.S.

The U.S. in turn 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.

Canada agreed to welcome more refugees by 2028, including those from French-speaking nations such as Haiti, and also agreed to welcome more agricultural workers, saying it would aim for temporary programs for foreign workers.

But some wondered how the agreement would work given that a lot of migrants want to head north to the U.S., but also wondered whether other countries would keep their end of the bargain.   

A day after the declaration, the Mexican National Institute of Migration announced it had disbanded a large group of 6,000 to 7,000 migrants headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border wanting to call attention to those who had gathered for the summit,

The United Nations’ refugee agency said June 10 that it welcomed the agreement known as the Los Angeles Declaration.

“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 UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“The Los Angeles Declaration builds upon existing frameworks and brings us closer to a continent-wide coordinated response based on the principles of international cooperation, solidarity and respect for human rights.”

The immigration deal sprinkled one of the few positive notes at the gathering, publicly boycotted by Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who reproached the U.S. 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 U.S., were among those who also declined to attend but signed the agreement.

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