The US is seeking a strong declaration to coordinate migration when Latin American leaders meet in Los Angeles in June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.
Blinken is going to Panama for a two-day trip to Panama to meet regional counterparts, as record numbers of people are displaced around the world - causing a humanitarian crisis and growing political worries for President Joe Biden.
Blinken said that the Panama talks are intended to lay the groundwork for a strong declaration by our leaders at the June 6 -- 10 Summit of the Americas in California.
Blinken called for a Declaration on Migration Protection in Los Angeles that sets out our shared principles for a coordinated response. He said that we can make a significant difference in the lives of our most vulnerable fellow citizens and the future of our region.
Biden called the summit to highlight his agenda of promoting democracy, with autocratic rulers expected to be excluded from the region.
Nearly 100 million people around the world are displaced since World War II, with Ukrainians fleeing at a startlingly fast pace since Russia's deadly invasion in February.
Migration rates have been increasing in the Western Hemisphere for years, fueled by conflicts, poverty and disasters worsened by climate change.
In March, US authorities apprehended more than 221,000 people on the Mexican border, the most for a single month in more than two decades, an issue that is sure to be highlighted by Biden's Republican rivals in November congressional elections.
The nations throughout the Americas have been struggling with rising migration, mainly from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Venezuela.
There were renewed calls to focus on root causes of migration, including corruption, political repression and climate change, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
In the near term he called for coordination to support the nations such as Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica that are accommodating migrants.
We know that no country can solve a challenge as complicated as irregular migration alone. Panama, a US partner that is home to the dangerous Durian Gap connecting North and South America, signed an agreement to step up coordination with the United States on Tuesday.
Panamanian Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes highlighted efforts taken by her country, including biometric tracking to identify criminals.
She said the region needed to speak with a single voice, including at multilateral institutions to secure shared funding.
She said that we only pass this hard test if we work on it together.