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United States Seeks Spain’s Help to Manage its Migrant Crisis by Bridget Ryder

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United States Seeks Spain’s Help to Manage its Migrant Crisis

The United States has asked Spain to take in migrants from Central American countries, U.S. media are reporting. 

Internal documents leaked to the media showed that plans were in the works to enlist more countries, including Spain and Canada, to assist with the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border. An unprecedented number of people, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, but also from other countries, have amassed at the southern border, often fleeing out-of-control gang violence or political oppression. Many cross illegally into the U.S. hoping to be able to plead for asylum. The situation has become a humanitarian crisis. 

Reuters reports that a source in the U.S. government told them it had not yet been clearly decided whether those whom Spain might agree to resettle would be from among asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border, or whether they would be required to apply for asylum at U.S. embassies and consulates regionally or via international refugee agencies.

Spain’s response to the U.S. is not known.

Reuters also reports that Biden intends to pitch a wider plan to get other American nations to assist with the migration crisis at the Summit of the Americas, which concludes June 10th. 

Spain, which has close historical-cultural and economic ties to many American countries, was invited to the summit as an observer. Spain already brings in Central Americans as guest workers.  

Dubbed by Biden the “Los Angeles Declaration,” the U.S.-led pact aims to create incentives for Central American countries to take in large numbers of migrants, and to spread responsibility for the crisis across the region.

Biden’s leadership at the Summit of the Americas has met some resistance. Several countries, including Mexico, boycotted the summit after Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba were not invited. Leaders from Argentina and Belize openly rebuked Biden for the short guest list. It seems questionable that the U.S. president will be able to garner support for a wide-ranging pact. 

Biden’s plan to involve Spain is also under pressure. Spain also has a couple of economic matters pending with the United States. The Trump administration placed high tariffs on two key Spanish exports four years ago—black olives and wind towers. Large Spanish companies continue to find their business operations in Cuba and Venezuela hampered by sanctions against those countries. Though there has been a thin rapprochement between the Spanish government and the Biden administration, those tariffs and restrictions remain in place, costing Spanish companies millions in lost profits.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will host Biden and other world leaders at a NATO conference in Madrid at the end of June. 

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.