By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
US officials and representatives of more than a dozen countries in the Western Hemisphere gathered at the White House this week amid concerns over mass migration in the region, a senior administration official told CNN.
Under the declaration, governments are expected to commit to expanding temporary worker programs, bolstering legal pathways like refugee resettlement and family reunification, providing support to countries hosting large migrant populations and cracking down on human smuggling networks.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan and homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall, among other White House officials, met with the representatives of 19 countries at the White House to iron out the implementation of that declaration and appoint a special coordinator for each country, according to the senior administration official.
“This was another building block,” the senior administration official said. “We agreed collectively on a set of what we’re calling action packages, or plans of action, that focus on specific priorities such as labor mobility, refugee resettlement, return and reintegration, working with financial institutions on stabilization, temporary protected status and regularization.”
The official cited Ecuador as a country that has followed through on its commitment this year to set up a process for Venezuelans who have moved to the country but declined to provide details on additional actions that are in motion.
Other countries that have moved forward on commitments include Canada, which announced efforts to support displaced people and their host countries, and Guatemala, which dismantled a transnational human smuggling organization, according to a White House readout of the meeting.
Administration officials have repeatedly acknowledged the unprecedented migration in the Western Hemisphere, stressing the need for all countries to help alleviate the flow and create better conditions in country.
That’s come into sharp focus on the US-Mexico border where border authorities are encountering more people from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, marking a shift from previous years where officials mostly encountered migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The jump in Venezuelans moving in the hemisphere was a topic of discussion on Monday, according to the senior administration official.
“We do find that a lack of coordination leads to more migrants being exploited,” the senior administration official said. “There’s consensus that there’s value in us working more closely and trying to synchronize our policies.”
Additional announcements are expected next week at the Los Angeles Declaration meeting of Foreign Ministers in Lima, Peru.
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