Mexican and US officials discuss ‘root causes’ of migration

The US is struggling to house and process an increasing number of migrants arriving at its southern border with Mexico.

Hennessy, 4, from Honduras, awakes at sunrise next to others who took refuge near a baseball field after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on rafts, in La Joya, Texas, US, March 19, 2021 [File: Adrees Latif/Reuters]

Officials from Mexico and the United States have discussed how to address the “root causes” of migration from Central America, the Mexican foreign ministry said on Tuesday, after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador earlier urged Washington to help spur development in the region.

US President Joe Biden’s administration sent envoys to Mexico to discuss a recent increase in arrivals at the US-Mexico border. Those talks will continue in Guatemala.

“Humanitarian actions were highlighted to promote, in the short term, inclusive economic development in the north of Central America that mitigates the root causes behind migratory flows in the region,” Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The officials, including Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, also discussed different mechanisms for “orderly and safe” migration, and the protection of human rights, particularly those of children, the ministry said.

There was no immediate comment from the White House on the outcome of the talks.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lopez Obrador said during a news conference that the best way to reduce migratory pressures was to improve living standards in countries that traditionally send most people to the US.

“People don’t go to the United States for fun, they go out of necessity,” Lopez Obrador said. “There needs to be support for the development of Central America and the south of Mexico. Particularly Central America.”

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the best way to reduce migratory pressures was to improve living standards in Central America and southern Mexico [File: Henry Romero/Reuters]

For years, the bulk of people seeking to cross irregularly into the US has come from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the poorer regions of southern Mexico.

The US government on Monday said it was sending envoys, including White House border coordinator Roberta Jacobson, to Mexico and Guatemala to seek their help managing the increase in arrivals at the US border.

US officials are struggling to house and process an increasing number of unaccompanied children, many of whom have been stuck in jail-like border stations for days while they await placement in overwhelmed government-run shelters.

The White House on Monday underlined that the US would work together with Mexico and Central American governments to mitigate the causes of migration, and to emphasise to their populations that now is not the time to go north.

Jacobson is being joined by Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, and Honduras-born diplomat Ricardo Zuniga, named this week as a special envoy focusing on Central America.

US President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the White House, on March 1, 2021 [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Zuniga is the first US special envoy for the region since the Cold War-era conflicts of the 1980s.

US President Joe Biden has promised to adopt a more humanitarian policy towards migrants than his predecessor Donald Trump, as well as to open up a pathway to citizenship for many living in the country.

Mexico says the change in policy has encouraged people to think that it is now easier to enter the US.

Source: Reuters