Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Lima Convention Center
FOREIGN MINISTER LANDA: (Via interpreter) Good morning, everyone. Mr. Secretary of State of the United States of America Antony Blinken, ladies and gentlemen, ministers of foreign affairs, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Peruvian Government, I would like to warmly welcome you to this meeting called by the U.S. to follow up on the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection.
Our countries are – currently send, receive migrants. We are centers of transit for migrants. There are multidirectional migrant flows that lead to complex situations, and we firmly believe that we must work on these in a welcoming way, integrating migrants into our societies. Migration has been especially relevant in the Americas, and it has been a part of our migration policies throughout time. Migrants then have adapted or have provided to the development in our countries and contributed to cultures and identities.
Today, migrant flows present interesting challenges, and we must continue to observe our principles, seeing migrants as people who are entitled to rights. That is why we are here in order to talk and develop joint solutions as actors in different areas of migration, because our goal is to create a migration agenda that is common for the Americas for our times. Our countries then have been managing migration at the domestic level as well as via international mechanisms in order to satisfy the needs of migrants. They have diverse circumstances and, therefore, may be more vulnerable in different stages of mobility. That is why our national offices and international agencies must defend the human rights of migrants, must promote their social and economic integration, and provide for regularization. Working with migrants, asylum systems for refugees, must be dealt with in order to combat human trafficking as well as the illegal trafficking of migrants, discrimination, and xenophobia.
Ladies and gentlemen, our response has been broad and generous, and in many cases our capacity to receive migrants has been overcome. Therefore, we require international cooperation. The challenges of migration have led to national responses that have opened roads for proper management of migration. Peru’s work in migration has worked specifically at the Interagency Working Group for Migration Management, the goal of which is to share knowledge on migration, expertise, good practices, and initiatives regarding the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Humane Migration.
The work of this working group has been included in the UN documents on good practices, and it is considered an efficient platform to work together, coordinate among agencies in a multidimensional fashion in Peru. Ladies and gentlemen, we need to continue to strengthen our joint work in different spaces so that we provide a comprehensive, hemispheric solution to the phenomenon of migration.
Finally, I would like to highlight what is stated in the L.A. Declaration – the fundamental work that we continue to do in the regional framework for protection and finding solutions, the Regional Conference on Migration and the South American Conference on Migration are key actors that may facilitate the implementation of this declaration.
Finally, the Los Angeles Declaration proposes a plan to manage different areas and proposes 11 working groups based on four pillars of the declaration: stability and assistance; legal pathways protection; humane management of migration; and a coordinated approach in emergency cases.
Ladies and gentlemen, I trust that this meeting will be productive and will benefit our migrants. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: We will hear now from the Secretary of State of the United States, Mr. Antony Blinken.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, thank you very much. And Foreign Minister Landa, César, thank you for the remarkable hospitality that Peru is showing all of us here. Thank you also for your remarkable generosity in hosting more than 1.2 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants – relevant to what we’re about to discuss.
In June, our countries met at the Summit of the Americas to adopt the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. The declaration, now endorsed by 21 countries, affirms our shared interest in handling this challenge in a way that enhances stability, increases opportunities for safe and orderly migration, while holding criminals and human traffickers accountable.
Indeed, countries have already taken important steps on their own to deliver on the commitment that we made in Los Angeles.
Belize launched a program in August to help register asylum seekers, refugees, and other vulnerable migrants who’ve been living without official documentation. More than 5,000 migrants have already applied for the program with more expected in the coming days.
Ecuador opened a registration process in September for Venezuelan migrants to apply for legal protection. In the first month alone, more than 100,000 registered for the program. In total, more than 500,000 Venezuelan migrants are expected to apply and ultimately receive legal status in Ecuador.
And Colombia, which in 2021 launched a historic initiative offering 10-year Temporary Protective Status to the more than 2.4 million Venezuelans living in the country, continued to implement its program with remarkable efficiency. More than 1.4 million Venezuelans have received already TPS cards which grant them access to public services and allow them to build new lives.
The United States is pleased to help support nine Migrant Integration Centers in cities across Colombia, where migrants can receive TPS cards and also get connected to services like job training, school, health care.
Just this Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit one of these centers in Bogotá, where I met a family of three – a mother, a father, and their nine-month-old son who fled Venezuela six months ago. Thanks to Colombia’s generosity, the son can now attend publicly provided daycare and his parents were able to get loans, training, and equipment to start a small business. The father has now started his own business making blue jeans while the mother runs her own bakery. Their enterprises benefit everyone, from the workers that they employ, to the customers who buy their goods, to the community that benefits from extra economic activity.
Integrating migrants through efforts like these will not only improve their lives but also strengthen the communities they live in. It will make it easier for them to work, to pick up new skills, to start a small business, through which they’ll pay taxes and spur local commerce – all activities that drive economic growth. And these efforts will contribute to the richness of their host countries, which will benefit from their many cultural and social contributions as well.
In addition to teaming up with many of the countries here today, the United States has also taken steps on our own to deliver on the Los Angeles Declaration. Earlier this summer, we resumed the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which creates a more efficient pathway for Cubans in the United States to apply for reunification with their loved ones. The United States also launched a new system to make it easier and faster to process asylum claims. Once fully implemented, most asylum cases will be resolved in months – not years, as is the current norm.
We continue to rebuild and revitalize our Refugee Resettlement Program. This year we’re on track to resettle the most refugees from the Western Hemisphere since 2015.
And we have expanded legal labor pathways. This fiscal year, the United States nearly doubled the number of Temporary Worker Visas to northern Central American nationals, from approximately 9,800 to more than 19,000, to help U.S. employers meet the demand for seasonal workers at a time of serious labor shortage. These visas come with significant protections and offer a safe, lawful way for temporary workers to work in jobs that are not filled by Americans.
Today, we are announcing two additional steps that we’re taking to support our shared work on migration. First, the United States is providing more than $240 million in new humanitarian and bilateral and regional assistance to help meet the needs of refugees and migrants throughout our hemisphere, including through providing health services, shelter, education, and legal assistance. The support will help host communities better integrate migrant populations, including by funding programs that support migrants in applying for official status. And it will provide international law enforcement and border security assistance to help partner governments find criminals and human traffickers who prey on vulnerable people.
Second, in keeping with the Los Angeles Declaration, we’re launching a collective implementation process so that we can turn our shared commitments into reality. Last week, we hosted many colleagues at the White House to kick off our work along several crucial lines of effort, from finding ways to better integrate migrants and support host communities, to combating xenophobia, to countering human trafficking and smuggling.
Most countries agreed to either lead or contribute to this work, and I encourage those countries that have not yet joined a line of effort to consider doing so today.
In our meeting today and in the months ahead, we’ll need to continue to drive progress across our commitments under the declaration throughout the region. This includes continuing to work together to address the root causes of migration, including a lack of economic opportunity, chronic insecurity, climate change, endemic corruption, which – if unaddressed – will only deepen the migration challenge that we face.
We need to tap into the breadth of experience of every country around this table, some of which have been at the forefront of providing humane protection to migrants for decades. We’ll also need to call upon the depth of expertise of city officials, civil society leaders, businesses, humanitarian workers, who are on the front lines of supporting migrants and host communities.
Ultimately, that is how we will make real, lasting progress toward a regional approach that respects the dignity of each migrant as well supporting the host communities in countries that host them. We know – all of us – that we are facing what is genuinely a historic challenge. We have more people on the move around the world displaced from their homes than at any time in record history, more than 100 million, and our own hemisphere is experiencing that in deep, profound, and new ways.
Los Angeles represents a recognition, an understanding, that this is a shared responsibility. Not one of us can meet this challenge alone, but we can – we can – if we work together. That’s the spirit of Los Angeles. That’s the spirit that we’re continuing today, and we very much look forward to hearing ideas on how we can do that and do it effectively. Thank you very much. (Applause.)