The United States and Latin America seek to harmonize the fight against illegal immigration

To handle better “an unprecedented migration crisis” by sharing the burden: this ambitious objective, reflected in few specific announcements, concluded the ninth edition of the Summit of the Americas, Friday, June 10 in Los Angeles. This diplomatic meeting was to serve to revive relations between the United States and the countries further south of the continent, very damaged under Donald Trump, and little cultivated since the start of Joe Biden’s mandate. If the diagnoses are shared, the collective momentum does not seem obvious, any more than the training capacity of the United States. But the crisis is there, in all its forms.

In addition to the permanent convulsions in Haiti or climate change, nearly six million people have left Venezuela in recent years, causing aftershocks in neighboring countries, suddenly subjected to extraordinary pressure. Washington no longer wants these regular scenes on the border with Mexico, where thousands of exhausted people flock from the South to claim asylum, confronting the American administration with the contradictions of its migration policy. Latin American and Caribbean countries have a more ambiguous attitude: illegal immigration is a unique tool of pressure on the United States. In addition, the diaspora represents a source of income, sending money back to the country.

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Published Friday and signed by 20 states, a non-binding joint text, called the Los Angeles Declaration, validates the principle of a “shared responsibility”, in the words of Joe Biden, between countries of origin and the final destination of migrants. Washington stresses the importance of this collective vision. The States concerned undertake to strengthen border controls and review their asylum procedures. Colombia recently announced that it would offer legal status to 1.7 million Venezuelans.

Suspicious southern neighbors

The United States, for its part, has agreed to take in 20,000 refugees from Latin America in 2023 and 2024, an effort multiplied by three, but far from the 100,000 Ukrainians that the Biden administration has promised to accept in the country. Washington will also release 314 million dollars in humanitarian assistance, mainly for Venezuelan migrants. Finally, the Biden administration, much criticized on this subject by the Republicans, announced the conduct of a vast operation to fight against the networks of traffickers, in several countries.

Government representatives attending the Americas Summit pose for a family photo in Los Angeles, June 10, 2022.

Breaking with the era of free trade agreements, Joe Biden hoped to apply to the Latin American subcontinent his familiar reading grid: that of a coalition of democracies, beyond their particular national traits, against the regimes authoritarian. In Europe, this coalition has strengthened dramatically against Russia, due to its military aggression in Ukraine. At the end of May, Joe Biden paid a visit to South Korea and Japan, to stage a common front against Chinese ambitions in Asia. But this partition did not have the same success with the neighbors to the South, always suspicious vis-à-vis American ambitions, quick to see in it a hidden hegemonic design.

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