Biden hosts leaders of South American nations at migration summit

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

During the two-hour meeting at the White House, Mr. Biden will announce new efforts in cooperation 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 start new businesses. across the hemisphere.

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

The goal, according to administration officials, is to help strengthen the economies of countries across the region so they can better absorb millions of migrants fleeing poverty, political instability and natural disasters in 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 cross illegally into the United States, many from Venezuela and other struggling countries.

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

But the president’s fight to keep migrants from entering 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-led cities to highlight the problem.

On Thursday, Democratic mayors from several of the largest cities in the United States traveled to Washington, DC, to urge White House officials and lawmakers to do more to allow migrants to work in the country legally.

“All the newcomers who arrive in our cities are looking for an opportunity to work, and every day we are called by business leaders who have unfilled positions and want to hire these newcomers,” the mayors wrote to Mr. Biden. “The only barrier to helping them help themselves is federal work permit restrictions.”

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 reach the United States.

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

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

Several countries whose top officials are attending Friday’s meeting have already taken in many migrants fleeing Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti or other struggling economies. One 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 receive migrants from the region, it reduces the burden on the United States. The goal of Friday’s meeting, the official said, is to help those countries do more.

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