Well, at least they had each other.
President Biden on Thursday told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau he’d visit Canada — before teasing a migration deal with neighboring countries to the south, according to reports.
This despite the fact that leaders of the top countries of origin for illegal immigrants snubbed the Biden-hosted summit where the plan will be unveiled.
Biden privately told Trudeau at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles that he’d visit Canada within a few months, according to journalists for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and CTV News. The commitment wasn’t noted in a White House-released readout.
Trudeau is one of the most prominent leaders to attend the summit after many others decided to skip it. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reportedly held Biden reps over a barrel and forced them to agree to a Biden sit-down and that the US leader would bite his tongue on deforestation and local politics in exchange for his attendance.
Biden said at an afternoon summit session that there would be a new migration plan unveiled Friday — despite the fact that the leaders of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras boycotted the event.
“Each one of our countries have been impacted by unprecedented migration. And I believe it’s our shared responsibility to meet this challenge. And I emphasize shared. Tomorrow, a number of us will join in announcing the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection,” Biden said.
“This will bring our nations together around a transformative new approach to invest in the region as solutions that embraces stability, to increase opportunities for safe and orderly migration, to crack down on criminals and human traffickers who prey on desperate people and coordinate specific concrete actions to secure our borders and resolve the shared challenges.”
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan teased elements of the initiative Wednesday, telling reporters on Air Force One that the plan would facilitate “labor pathways to the United States for both migrants transiting their countries and for the source countries.”
Sullivan didn’t say if the idea requires approval from Congress as the US-Mexico border experiences record arrests for illegal crossings.
“We’ll have announcements related to labor pathways as part of the Los Angeles Declaration and, actually, an interesting and very innovative new program between our Department of Agriculture and the United Farmworkers that is designed to ensure that those labor pathways meet the highest labor standards and are not used for abuse or for a race to the bottom,” Sullivan said Wednesday.
In fiscal 2021, which ended in September, there were nearly 1.7 million US Border Patrol encounters with suspected illegal border-crossers — the most since at least 1986. So far in fiscal 2022, there have been more than 1.2 million encounters with migrants — of whom about 62% are from Mexico or one of the three “Northern Triangle” countries of Central America.
Republicans blame Biden for the border crisis, pointing to his calls for Congress to legalize most people currently living in the US illegally, his campaign-trail calls to welcome asylum seekers and his abandonment of hardline Trump-era border enforcement tactics.
Republican-led states are suing to require Biden to keep in effect COVID-19 pandemic policies that allow for rapid deportations of people suspected of illegally crossing the border, arguing the authority is needed to prevent an even greater border surge.
Mexican President Manuel López Obrador said Monday that he would boycott the summit after the US refused to invite the authoritarian leftist leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro also skipped the summit — even though Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Honduras to support Castro when she was inaugurated in January.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei refused to attend after the US barred entry of the country’s attorney general, Maria Consuelo Porras, over her “involvement in significant corruption.”
El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele, who has been faulted by the US for allegedly not respecting civil liberties during a crackdown on gangs, also skipped the summit.