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Summit's final resolution hopes to stem hemisphere's unprecedented migration wave

Marco Ugarte
Migrants from across the hemisphere heading through Mexico last year.

The Summit of the Americas' 'Los Angeles Declaration' urges the entire hemisphere to confront a growing immigration crisis emanating from countries like Cuba.

The Summit of the Americas comes to a close on Friday in Los Angeles — and one of its more important resolutions involves immigration, an effort to help stem the alarming, hemisphere-wide rush of migrants from countries like Venezuela, Haiti and Cuba.

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The summit’s Los Angeles Declaration calls on not just the U.S. but all countries to help tackle an immigration crisis affecting the entire hemisphere. It urges them to make migration through their borders safer and more lawful, and to expand their own asylum and work visa systems.

The U.S. pledged to contribute more than $300 million to that effort. President Biden told the heads of states gathered in Los Angeles that their own contributions will be an investment that pays off.

“Safe and orderly migration is good for all of our economies, including the United States," he said.

"It can be a catalyst for sustainable growth.”

It's also part of what Biden called a new economic partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean, focused in no small part on clean energy projects and improved supply-chain (what many economists call "near-shoring") arrangements between the U.S. and the rest of the hemisphere, especially the Caribbean basin. That, economists suggest, could help the U.S. fend off China's growing economic and political footprint in the region.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the U.S. has secured more than $3 billion in corporate pledges to help impoverished economies in regions like Central America where so many migrants come from.

Cuba — whose dictatorial government was not invited to the summit — is another country where an unprecedented wave of migrants is leaving today. Cuban civil society representatives were invited, including Félix Llenera of the Youth and Democracy in the Americas initiative.

“I think the summit helped encourage a more multilateral effort to confront the repressive reality in Cuba,” Llenera told WLRN from Los Angeles.

Venezuela and Nicaragua were also not invited to the summit. That caused some heads of state, like Mexico’s president, not to attend in protest.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.