Next month, President Joe Biden will host a groundbreaking summit involving representatives from 11 countries focusing on immigration issues in the Western Hemisphere. This was reported by CBS News.
As per the White House, the Americas Summit will take place on November 3rd in Washington, under the leadership of the President. Leaders from Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay have been invited to participate.
These countries are members of the Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP), established last year at the Americas Summit in Los Angeles, California, to address economic development, inequality, and the fate of democratic states in the Western Hemisphere.
According to a statement from a high-ranking administration official, the summit will provide an opportunity to deepen economic integration among Western Hemisphere nations. The goal of the summit is to "promote more inclusive and sustainable economic growth and address the economic drivers of illegal migration in our hemisphere."
During the summit, it is expected that leaders will create three distinct areas for discussion: finance, trade, and foreign affairs, enabling countries to set specific goals and processes for their implementation swiftly.
This meeting comes at a time when the President is seeking approximately $6.4 billion from Congress to bolster border security programs, responding to growing bipartisan concerns on Capitol Hill and visible dissatisfaction from governors and mayors of major cities regarding how the Biden administration is handling the record number of border crossings.
Republican presidential candidates continue to criticize the Biden administration's immigration policy and its border security measures. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis even called for the use of U.S. armed forces on the southern border to prevent drug cartels from smuggling fentanyl and other illegal substances.
In September, approximately 50,000 migrants from crisis-hit Venezuela crossed the American-Mexican border, with thousands more arriving from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and other countries. In response, the Biden administration resumed direct deportations to Venezuela this week, reversing a practice that had been suspended amid strained relations with Venezuela's leader, Nicolas Maduro. In the midst of Venezuela's widespread economic crisis, Venezuelans are leaving their country in record numbers, making it the largest refugee outflow in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations.
However, this week, the Maduro government and representatives of opposition parties agreed to restart negotiations, which could lead to free presidential elections next year and the release of political prisoners. This could prompt the Biden administration to ease sanctions on the country's oil industry. The relaxation of sanctions also depends on whether Maduro releases three Americans—Evin Hernandez, Jerrell Kenemore, and Joseph Crystal—classified by the State Department as "unjustly detained."
In a request for emergency spending submitted to Congress on October 20th, the White House asked for $4.4 billion to construct new immigrant detention centers and to reimburse the Pentagon for military support at the border.
The administration's request includes $1.9 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide ongoing assistance and support to unaccompanied children and migrant families, as well as a request for $204 million to fund the Trump-era policy requiring the Department of Justice to collect DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants crossing the border annually.
It is currently unclear whether leaders from all 11 countries will participate in the summit, but invitations for various side events held during the summit are being distributed in Washington this week.
The leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—three countries from which tens of thousands of people have fled in recent years, with many passing through on their way to Mexico and the United States—have not been invited to the summit because, according to diplomats familiar with the planning, they did not join the APEP agreements last year.
All three countries have strained relations with the Biden administration, which is concerned about the erosion of democratic norms and the hardening of law enforcement policies, leading to the wrongful detention of thousands of people, particularly in El Salvador.