(CN) — President Joe Biden announced plans to drive economic growth, address climate change and control migration in the Western Hemisphere during his inaugural speech Wednesday at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
“At this summit, we have an opportunity for us to come together around some bold ideas, ambitious actions, and to demonstrate to our people the incredible power of democracy to deliver concrete benefits and make life better for everyone,” Biden said at the beginning of his speech.
After mentioning a U.S.-Caribbean partnership to address the climate crisis, which he said Vice President Kamala Harris would lead, as well as efforts to combat insecurity by disrupting transnational criminal organizations and increasing law enfrocement efforts against drugs and illicit firearms, the president introduced the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.
The plan will grow economies “from the bottom-up and middle-out, not the top-down,” he said. “What’s true in the United States is true in every country: trickle-down economics does not work.”
Biden also emphasized the need to invest in sustainable trade and create more resilient and secure supply chains.
“By working with close friends who share our values, we can make sure that we are not left vulnerable to unexpected shocks, while generating economic opportunity for the people in our region,” he said.
The plan also aims to foster innovation to help governments better serve their people and keep them secure, the president said, adding that development banks will be modernized to direct investment and help governments deliver on their promises.
He proposed reforms and pledged U.S. capital to the private sector lending arm of the Inter-American Development Bank “to help capitalize on the critical flow of private capital in the region.”
Biden also said the partnership intends to “tackle the climate crisis head-on,” stating, “When I hear climate, I think jobs. Good-paying, high-quality jobs will help speed our transition to a green economy of the future and unleash sustainable growth.”
The president transitioned from jobs into the announcement of his Los Angeles Declaration, an initiative to manage migration in the western hemisphere, which he plans to sign on Friday.
“That’s what this is all about: responding to basic human desires that we share for dignity, for safety, for security. And when those basics are absent in one place, that’s when people make the desperate decision to seek them elsewhere,” he said.
But Biden walked a fine and somewhat ambivalent line when expressing the vision that will drive the declaration.
“Safe and orderly migration is good for all of our economies, including the United States. It can be a catalyst for sustainable growth,” the president said. “But unlawful migration is not acceptable. We will enforce our borders, including through innovative coordinated actions with our regional partners.”
Yael Schacher, deputy director for the Americas and Europe at Refugees International, said in a phone interview that “the goal of the Biden administration clearly is to keep people where they are in other countries in the region, to have countries like Ecuador and Colombia create policies that will allow migrants who are there to stay there, not continue to travel northward in caravans or otherwise.”
But assisting countries with large migrant populations “does not diminish the need and responsibility of the United States to support the large number of immigrants in the United States and asylum seekers at its own southern border,” she said. “The United States must do at home what it is asking other countries to do.”
The leader of a caravan of over 14,000 migrants that left Tapachula, Mexico, on Monday called on President Biden and other summit attendees to put their needs first when making plans on controlling migration in the region.