Biden touts economic future, immigration changes in Western Hemisphere meeting

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders' Summit in the East Room of the White House on Friday. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI

Nov. 3 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden hosted about a dozen Latin American countries at its Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders' Summit on Friday, with immigration as a backdrop at the White House.

Biden talked about his plans for the summits and lifting up the economies in the Western Hemisphere but also addressed the need to manage immigration to put a hint in the illegal human trafficking trade.

"We're expanding legal pathways to promote safe and orderly migration and allowing worker permits for migrants to contribute to our economy," Biden told the group in his opening statement. "This is a critical asset to all of our countries. [We will] enforce immigration laws in humane and effective ways that deter dangerous and irregular migration and disrupt traffickers."

The comments on immigration kicked off the two-hour meeting at which the president also shared new efforts to work with the Inter-American Development Bank to help the region modernize its digital and physical infrastructure.

Biden said the United States would also work with Western Hemisphere countries to help entrepreneurs start new businesses and support supply chains across the region. The administration said those supply chains connected to clean energy, semiconductors and medical supplies, for example, would help ease their dependence on China.

The United States plays a critical role in the region, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointing out that the country makes up 90% of the hemisphere's gross domestic product has three-fourths of the region's population.