President Biden hosted officials from 11 Western Hemisphere countries on Friday in a meeting aimed in part at addressing the region’s historic influx of migrants by boosting the economies of Mexico, Ecuador, Panama and other countries.
During the two-hour meeting at the White House, Mr. Biden announced new efforts to work with the Inter-American Development Bank to help countries in the region modernize their digital and physical infrastructure and to work with countries to help entrepreneurs start new businesses around the world. Hemisphere.
He also announced initiatives aimed at supporting supply chains across the region in areas such as clean energy, semiconductors and medical supplies – helping countries in the Americas reduce their dependence on China and others around the world.
“Our people in each of our countries are young, dynamic, diverse, and ready to seize the future,” Biden said at the opening of the meeting in the East Room. “I think they really are. All we have to do is keep going, keep delivering the positive vision we all share for a safe, prosperous and democratic region.”
One goal, according to administration officials, is to help boost the economies of countries across the region so they can better accommodate millions of migrants fleeing poverty, political instability and natural disasters.
Dealing with the impact of migration at the border with Mexico has been one of Biden’s biggest challenges since taking office at the start of 2021. Record numbers of migrants have tried to cross into the United States illegally, many from Venezuela and other struggling countries. .
Republicans have seized on the issue as one of their primary attacks on Mr. Biden’s administration. They say the president has failed to be tough enough on the border, and accuse the White House of putting US national security at risk by not using tougher measures to prevent people from entering the country.
But the president’s fight to keep immigrants out has also created division and anger among Democratic officials in states where the cost of caring for immigrants puts pressure on their budgets. Republican governors in Texas and Florida bused thousands of migrants to Democratic-led cities to highlight the issue.
On Thursday, Democratic mayors from several of the largest cities in the United States traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge White House officials and lawmakers to do more to allow immigrants to work legally in the country.
“All of the newcomers arriving in our cities are looking for a job opportunity, and every day we receive calls from business leaders who have open positions and want to hire these newcomers,” the mayors wrote to Biden. “The only barrier to us helping them help themselves is federal work permit restrictions.”
Last month, Biden took steps to increase the number of immigrants who can work legally in the United States. But White House officials said the meeting on Friday was an opportunity to work on longer-term efforts that could reduce the number of migrants trying to come to the United States.
Mr. Biden announced the creation of the Partnership of the Americas for Economic Prosperity during the region’s leaders’ summit in Los Angeles in the summer of 2022. Members of the Partnership of the Americas include Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.
White House officials said Mexico and Panama were represented by their foreign ministers on Friday. Leaders of the other nine countries were in the White House.
Several countries whose top officials attended the meeting on Friday have already received many migrants fleeing Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti or other struggling economies. One White House official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting before it took place, said that Biden wants to reward those countries with additional economic assistance.
The official said that when other countries receive migrants from the region, it reduces the burden on the United States. The official said the goal of Friday’s meeting is to help those countries do more of that.
“Across the region, entrepreneurs are ready to take off,” Mr. Biden said. “Investors are changing the way we think. Workers are willing to roll up their sleeves. We will make sure they have the skills and resources they need to succeed.
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