Biden calls for regional framework to 'dramatically expand' migration pathways
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President Biden on Thursday called for a "regional declaration on migration and protection" this summer to be signed along with other nations -- a framework that includes provisions to "dramatically expand" migration pathways.
"Our hemisphere migration challenges cannot be solved by one nation or any one border. We have to work together," Biden said, as his administration continues to grapple with a historic crisis at the U.S. southern border.
President Joe Biden meets with Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Biden administration has leaned hard into a "root causes" approach to tackling migration, which blames the enormous surge in migration at the southern border under Biden’s watch on things like poverty, violence and climate change in Central America.
However, as it has pursued that approach, the numbers have remained high, with January’s border numbers significantly outstripping those from the prior year -- indicating that a surge in the summer could be on the way. Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday that the Biden administration is planning to tell Mexico that it may soon end Trump-era Title 42 public health protections, and that officials are worried about "historically and unseasonably high" numbers of migrants.
Biden, meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez, called for a regional response to the hemisphere’s migration, including a "new framework of our nations" to collectively manage migration in the Western Hemisphere. He said the goal is to sign a "regional declaration on migration and protection" with other countries at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June.
Biden said the framework "needs to dramatically expand access to resettlement and other legal pathways to migration, and it needs to aggressively pursue the criminal smugglers and traffickers who prey on all these folks for profit."
"That's the best way, in my view, for us to live up to our collective values and welcome immigrants and refugees, keep migrants safe and secure all our countries," he said.
The administration has, in addition to its root causes explanation, also blamed the surge on the Trump administration’s shutting down of legal asylum pathways. Critics however, have blamed the surge on the rollback of Trump-era policies, combined with calls for amnesty for illegal immigrants and a dramatic reduction in enforcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.)
The Biden administration last month confirmed that it has started removing some Venezuelan migrants encountered at the southern border to Colombia under Title 42 public health protections if they had previously lived in Colombia. The number of Venezuelans encountered at the border had increased from 206 in December 2020 to 24,819 in December 2021.
"Mr. President, the United States is going to continue to do our part to support Colombia as you care for Venezuelan refugees," Biden told his counterpart.