North American Leaders Summit: Toward Regional Cooperation on Migration

Migration and forced displacement in the Americas ended up being an important part of the closely watched North American Leaders Summit US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Washington, DC, on November 18.

Although media coverage prior to the Summit focused on trade and competitiveness, especially around the integrated North American automobile industry, migration was an important part of the leaders’ discussions.

In a final Fact Sheet, the leaders recognized “the complex factors that have driven an increase in irregular migration through the hemisphere, and acknowledged that they require a coordinated regional response with respect for law, rooted in solidarity with migrants and among States, prioritizing orderly, safe, and regular migration.”

Specifically, the leaders pledged to:

  • Develop a regional compact on migration and protection for the Americas.
  • Promote pathways to labor mobility, by committing to promote temporary seasonal worker visas, increasing industry education about the programs and their regulations, and expanding centralized migration resource centers in Central America. They also committed to announce additional programs and funding to create jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Dedicate additional assistance to address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, and consider a trilateral development partnership between the Mexican Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID), Global Affairs Canada, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • Strengthen asylum systems and refugee resettlement programs to provide international protection for those fleeing persecution, with each country expected to make new commitments to take in more refugees.
  • Improve capacity to identify human trafficking and other crimes, and create a trilateral migrant smuggling and human trafficking task force.
  • Commit to promoting voluntary returns along the migratory route, in accordance with international and national laws.

The World Refugee & Migration Council through our joint North and Central American Task Force on Migration has already outlined a series of bold and concrete recommendations for addressing these issues, including on Humanitarian Protection in the Region and opportunities for Regional Cooperation and Co-Responsibility.

The Task Force has also issued specific recommendations for creating alternative migration pathways.

For questions about our work on migration in North and Central America, contact info@wrmcouncil.org.