Summit of the Americas a Missed Opportunity for Addressing the Systemic Inequities Driving Migration
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2022
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On June 10, the U.S., Latin American countries, Spain, and Canada signed a joint declaration on migration as the culmination of this week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, committing to addressing rising migration in the Americas in a comprehensive way. According to Alianza Americas, a coalition of more than 50 migrant-led organizations in 18 states, and its nationwide digital powerhouse Presente.org, the declaration falls short in strengthening access to protection for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. Additionally, the summit overall appears to have missed a major opportunity to introduce a bold set of policies aimed at addressing the social inequities driving migration, given that Latin America is the world’s most unequal region.
“This declaration in no way represents a truly new approach on migration in the Americas,” said Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas. “Tens of thousands of people are living in painful uncertainty at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the U.S. response is to detain and deport en masse, and fast-track people’s asylum applications through a new asylum rule. Where is the U.S. commitment to uphold due process for asylum seekers through fair and timely proceedings, and to protect those fleeing violence and climate change disasters? It’s not here.”
While there is great focus on the Los Angeles Declaration as one of the primary outcomes of the summit, the regional conference also missed an opportunity to produce a truly transformative set of policies aimed at mitigating the deep socioeconomic inequalities driving people to migrate. Latin America’s economic growth rate lags far behind other regions; and as described by the UN in a 2021 report, “the region is caught in a trap of high inequality and low growth,” creating “a vicious circle that limits the ability to advance on all fronts of human development,” a context that is helping drive migration.
“The economic and migration plans unveiled by Biden at the summit do not go far enough in recognizing how migration is a symptom of the much larger problem of social inequity,” said Chacón. “Citizens across the Americas are not guaranteed access to education, healthcare, clean water, housing, security, and justice. This leaves too many with little better choice except to migrate in order to have a shot at a dignified life. We’re just fooling ourselves if we’re trying to address migration without addressing the root problem of social inequality.”
In a joint statement released earlier this week, the Alianza Americas coalition urged hemispheric leaders to introduce a bold set of policies that recognize the hugely positive impact that migration and migrants have had in the countries of destination and origin, and to emphasize a humanitarian focus in addressing migration challenges.
“The positive impact of migration has been vast, not only in economic terms… If policymaking about migration and migrants in the Western Hemisphere were being driven by facts, not ideology and prejudice, the Americas could be a shining example of visionary, humane, and mutually beneficial policies for all parties involved,” the Alianza Americas coalition said.