Biden to Host South American Leaders for Summit on Migration

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(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will host leaders from South American nations at the White House for a summit on Nov. 3 where the United States will reaffirm its commitment for cooperation on economic growth and tackling irregular migration, the White House said on Friday.

During the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders’ Summit, Biden also will outline commitments to strengthen and expand U.S. efforts to drive regional economic growth, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The latest convening of leaders comes more than a year after Biden signed a non-binding declaration at a previous meeting – dubbed the “Summit of the Americas” – where 20 countries from the region agreed to a set of measures to confront the migration crisis.

Record numbers of migrants have crossed illegally into the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years, with hundreds of thousands of people heading north after passing through a perilous jungle region known as the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama.

The trend has been fueled in part by a sharp increase in Venezuelans fleeing economic and political instability in their home country.

The announcement of the latest summit comes after the Biden administration earlier in the week broadly eased sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector in response to a 2024 election deal reached between the government and opposition parties. At the same time the U.S. restarted deportations to Venezuela, which had been long stalled.

Since taking office in 2021, Biden, a Democrat, has opened up a range of new legal pathways for migrants while embracing some more restrictive border measures that echo the policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

Trump, who made a hardline on immigration central to his term in office, is leading in the race for a Republican candidate to face off with Biden in next year’s presidential election.

As part of the effort to promote legal migration, the Biden administration has set up a series of so-called “Safe Mobility Offices” in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and most recently Ecuador to expedite refugee processing and other humanitarian and employment permits.

Biden’s border approach has drawn harsh criticism from Republicans and even some Democrats in cities grappling with a large number of asylum seekers arriving with little support and overwhelming local resources.

The previous summit, held in Los Angeles in June 2022, was snubbed by Mexico’s president after the leftist governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were excluded.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Trevor Hunnicutt and Costas Pitas; Editing by Paul Grant and Daniel Wallis)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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