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Blinken says US targeting those 'preying' on migrants

By AFP

May 8, 2024 12:30 AM


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Washington is redoubling efforts to disrupt migration routes that lead to the United States, in particular via charter flights to Central America, top diplomat Antony Blinken said at regional talks Tuesday.

The secretary of state is leading the US delegation at a meeting in Guatemala of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, a cooperation framework agreed to at a summit in California in 2022.

The United States has "stepped up efforts against those preying on vulnerable migrants," notably those flying people from Asia, Africa and elsewhere to Central America, Blinken said.

In February, Washington announced a new visa restriction policy that targets "individuals who knowingly provide transportation to those intending to migrate irregularly to the United States, including through charter flights arriving in Nicaragua," he said.

On Monday, the United States unveiled visa restrictions on Colombian maritime migration executives who are facilitating irregular migration, Blinken added.

"We're redoubling our efforts to protect migrant workers from exploitation," he said.

Washington has been wooing Guatemala's new administration as a partner on migration, with presidents Joe Biden and Bernardo Arevalo meeting in March. That visit also saw the announcement of $170 million in US aid.

The month before, Guatemala also agreed to three-way cooperation with the United States and Mexico on migration.

In a speech to the regional meeting, Arevalo called for "safe, orderly, humane and regulated migration."

Record numbers of migrants have been seeking to enter the United States, largely from Central America and Venezuela, as they flee poverty, violence and disasters exacerbated by climate change.

The issue has emerged as a top political issue with Biden's Republican challenger in November elections, former president Donald Trump.

Nearly 130,000 Guatemalans illegally crossed the US-Mexico border from October to February, among a total of 1.15 million migrants intercepted during that period, according to the US Border Patrol.

Arevalo took office in January, following unsuccessful attempts by Guatemala's political establishment to block the inauguration of the underdog anti-corruption campaigner.


AFP


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