Western leaders will commit to stiffer borders, improved asylum

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Leaders at the Summit of the Americas will sign an agreement Friday committing to stiffen borders and improve their asylum systems in an attempt to slow the unprecedented pace of illegal immigration across the hemisphere.

The agreement, to be signed Friday in Los Angeles, is the biggest concrete achievement of President Biden, who is hosting the summit.

The U.S. will agree to expand access to its guest-worker programs for other countries in the hemisphere to relieve some of the incentive for migrating, Mr. Biden will promise to take more refugees, and American taxpayers will also pony up assistance for other countries who are willing to do more to screen and keep refugees inside their boundaries, rather than see them rush north to the U.S.

Mr. Biden will also commit to what officials called an “unprecedented-in-scale campaign” to target the smuggling networks that funnel people north.

Other nations that sign the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection will agree to do more to interdict those entering their countries, screen them, and then deport them if they don’t qualify for protection or status in those other countries.

“Many countries across the region have already been absorbing millions of immigrants, migrants and refugees, and it’s time that we work together to address this challenge,” a senior official said in briefing reporters ahead of the announcement.

The official said other countries are also expected to detail commitments to support “middle-income” nations that are bearing the brunt of major migration shifts. Countries like Panama and Costa Rica have massive refugee populations right now, the official said.

The goal is to disrupt the chain of illegal economic or family reunification migration that’s seen record numbers of people leave their countries and travel across Central America and Mexico to reach the U.S.

The leaders of key countries along the migration route are absent from the summit. The presidents of Mexico, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras stayed home.

American officials said they believe some of those countries will offer support for the declaration’s principles.

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