The US president on Friday unveiled a series of new initiatives at the Summit of the Americas, aimed at addressing the regional migration crisis. The measures include the United States and Canada pledging to take on more guest workers, providing pathways for people from poorer countries to work in wealthier countries, and other countries agreeing to greater protections for immigrants. Spain, whose representatives attended the conference as observers, agreed to play its part in easing the immigration crisis facing the Biden administration.
Madrid will double the number of work lanes for Hondurans to participate in Spain’s circular migration programs, according to the White House.
However, their commitment to do so is unlikely to have a major impact on the crisis, given that Spain is currently enrolling only 250 Hondurans in its temporary work program.
President Biden told the conference, “Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, and Spain are committing today to expanding the pathways of work to their countries.”
He also vowed that Washington would not tolerate illegal immigration and warned smugglers that his government would hunt them down.
The 79-year-old said: “We must end dangerous and illegal migration.
“Illegal migration is not acceptable.
“If you’re preying on desperate and vulnerable migrants for profit, we’re coming for you.”
The President added, “In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security is the first of its kind to disrupt human trafficking in the region.
America has seen a massive increase in the number of migrants seeking to enter the country, after a recent drop in numbers – largely due to the pandemic.
The U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 1.6 million encounters with migrants along the border with Mexico in fiscal year 2021.
This represents a four-fold increase over the previous fiscal year and is the highest annual total on record.
READ MORE: Newsnight: Ex-staff says Trump ‘would beat Biden’ today
According to the National Institute of Statistics, tourism contributes around 12% to Spain’s overall GDP.
There are currently around 5.3 million foreign immigrants in Spain, of which 1.5 million come from Latin America.
The common language, culture and favorable agreements between Spain and Latin American governments mean that it is easier for Latin Americans to travel to work in Spain.
In some cases, Latin Americans do not need a visa to travel to Spain to work.
The Spanish government is also considering drafting new laws to make it easier for foreigners to become legal workers in the country.