tags: Press Releases

ICYMI in Foreign Affairs: “Migration Doesn’t Have to Be a Crisis”

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Washington, DC – A new Foreign Affairs analysis by Dan Restrepo, “Migration Doesn’t Have to Be a Crisis,” makes the case for a hemisphere-wide approach to migration to replace the “perpetual crisis management” mentality and our nation’s myopic focus at the U.S. southern border. Published ahead of next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, at which migration is likely to be a point of emphasis, the new piece is an essential read.

Restrepo is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress who served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs on the National Security Council during the Obama Administration. Read his new Foreign Affairs article in full online HERE and find key excerpts below, followed by a quote from Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

For three decades, the United States has treated migration at the U.S.-Mexican border as a matter of perpetual crisis management. More often than not, the domestic conversation is overtaken by hysteria. The latest flashpoints include a politicized debate about the end of Title 42, an order issued by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration early in the COVID-19 pandemic to turn away migrants on public health grounds, and outrage stoked by conservative politicians about the U.S. government feeding migrant children in federal custody (which it is legally and morally required to do) amid a baby formula shortage. But behind such manufactured alarm lies a very real problem. Washington’s migration policy is incoherent and fails to look beyond the U.S. border, where the primary challenges—and their solutions—exist.

… The movement of people throughout the Americas is not going to stop. The United States must therefore look beyond its border and embrace a new, hemisphere-wide approach to migration, combined with steps to modernize U.S. laws, policies, and border infrastructure. After the economic devastation of the pandemic and years facing historic levels of irregular migration with scant international support, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are eager to collaborate on a comprehensive regional plan—and next week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles is an opportunity to make real progress. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, together with countries across the Americas, is already planning to introduce a new regional vision in a joint Declaration on Migration and Protection.

But breaking the cycle of failed crisis management will also require concrete action. A sustainable migration framework for the Western Hemisphere must help integrate and establish legal status for already dislocated populations, with additional protection measures for the most vulnerable among them. It must provide options for would-be migrants apart from overburdened asylum systems. And it must establish infrastructure to respond to sudden increases in irregular migration. Large numbers of people will be moving throughout the Americas for years to come. It is time the United States coordinated more closely with other countries in the region to make this a manageable trend, rather than a disruptive one.

 … There are many reasons that people across the Americas are on the move. What they lack are legal avenues. For nearly all would-be migrants to the United States, the only available path is the irregular one, ending at the U.S.-Mexican border and an overburdened U.S. asylum system. A more sustainable alternative includes expanded access to destinations outside of the United States, as well as established legal processes for migrants seeking education, family reunification, and labor.

… No country, including the United States, can halt the forces that are driving people to migrate and reshaping the Western Hemisphere in the process. But the region’s leaders can agree to manage the consequences and relieve the pressures pushing people to move in the first place, to the lasting benefit of all.

The following is a statement from Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication at America’s Voice:

The U.S. policy approach to regional migration has gotten it backwards for decades. The notion that the complicated dynamics that lead to forced migration begin, end, or can be addressed only at the US southern border is akin to looking through the wrong end of the telescope. 

As Dan Restrepo’s new article outlines in detail, we need a realistic hemispheric approach that includes new legal channels for migration for work, family reunification and to protect people seeking safety so that walking across Mexico is not seen as the only option for migrants. We also need fair, accurate processing of people who reach the border and regional partnerships, engagement and investment in sending countries to alleviate forced migration pressures and stabilize conditions on the ground. 

The upcoming Summit of the Americas is an opportunity for the United States to advance the type of partnerships and agreements between nations in the region to shoulder a share of the work and the responsibility for protecting and resettling migrants. On the campaign trail and in the earliest days of the new Biden administration, top officials outlined a similar vision. We hope next week’s Summit of the Americas leads to new commitments to ensure these ideas become a reality.