The US expects Spain to take in a ‘significant number’ of Central American refugees

The Spanish foreign minister will attend the Summit of the Americas in LA and the pledge is expected to provide a political boost to the Biden administration

Centroamerican migrants
Migrants from Haiti and Central America wait their turn to process their asylum in Tapachula (Mexico) last August.Nayeli Cruz

The United States is hoping that Spain will commit to resettling a “symbolic but significant number” of Central American refugees, according to the US news site Axios, which cited preparatory documents for the Summit of the Americas to be held in Los Angeles (California) between June 6 and 10.

The pledge from Spain – which could double or triple the number of temporary workers from that region currently accepted through an employment-based migration program, according to Axios – would complement another commitment by Canada and would “provide a political boost” to the Biden administration, pressured by the massive arrival of Central American refugees to its southern border.

Spanish diplomatic sources declined to comment on this information, but they have confirmed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, will travel to Los Angeles next week to participate as a guest in the Americas Summit. Spain has already attended these summits as an observer on other occasions, the first edition of which was held in Miami in 1994; the last one, which former president Donald Trump did not attend, took place in Peru in 2018.

The organization of this international meeting has become a headache for the US State Department, due to boycott threats over rumors that the US would not invite the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. A group of countries led by Mexico said they might not attend if there were any vetoed nations. With just a few days to go before the summit opens, the list of attendees has not yet been closed.

The resettlement of Central American refugees in Spain was addressed at the first meeting that the Spain-US Working Group on Central America held in Madrid on May 25, with two delegations chaired by Spain’s Secretary of State for Ibero-America and the Caribbean, Juan Fernández Trigo, and the US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Emily Mendrala.

According to a source at the Foreign Ministry, the delegations discussed “proposals and actions in order to address jointly and with the countries of the region the challenges posed by forced displacement and movements of irregular migrants from Central America.”

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