The White House on Friday announced a slate of new initiatives to address irregular migration, as President Joe Biden meets with leaders of other Western Hemisphere nations at the Summit of the Americas.
The new actions are part of a new regional declaration on migration the U.S. and other countries will present at the summit on Friday. Historically high migration at the U.S.-Mexico border has strained government resources in recent years, and the Biden administration has vowed to address its root causes.
“The Western Hemisphere, as a region, is undergoing historic and unprecedented rates of irregular migration. Nearly every country has been impacted,” a senior administration official told reporters Thursday. “And that is why President Biden is pursuing bold and concrete action to address hemispheric responsibility for the migration challenge the region is facing.”
Under the declaration, participating countries will strengthen asylum processing, enforce their borders, broaden legal migration pathways and expand temporary worker programs. The participating countries include the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Western Hemisphere countries.
As part of the declaration, the White House on Friday promised $314 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan migrants and refugees who have fled President Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarian regime — more than 6 million people total, according to U.N. estimates.
The Biden administration also granted $25 million to the Global Concessional Financing Facility, which provides developmental support to countries impacted by refugee crises.
The State Department pledged to resettle 20,000 refugees from the Americas over the next two years. So far in fiscal 2022, which ends Sept. 30, the administration has resettled only 1,296 refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean. The government said Friday it expects to resettle an additional 1,800 refugees from the region by the end of the fiscal year.
The administration also announced on Friday the resumption of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program, which allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for humanitarian parole on behalf of their relatives in Haiti. Parole status allows immigrants facing persecution to enter the U.S. without a visa. Last month, the administration promised to restart a similar program for Cubans.
“Both Cuban and Haitian people are confronting a humanitarian crisis and our policy focuses on empowering people to help them create a future free from repression and economic suffering,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a news release Friday.
The slate of announcements also detailed an international plan to combat smugglers with $50 million in DHS funding and more than 1,300 government personnel. The new plan includes investigation efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a law enforcement task force headed by the Justice Department, and intelligence conducted by the Migration Crises Cell in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Finally, the administration promised to promote temporary worker programs. On Friday, the Labor Department issued guidance to promote the “ethical recruitment” of temporary migrant workers on H-2A and H-2B visas.
“We see this as a true win-win for countries such as the United States, Canada and Mexico, and other countries across the Western Hemisphere that are facing massive labor shortages,” the senior administration official said.