Thursday, September 23News That Matters

AMLO to propose extending social programme to Central America

Mexican president says he wants to propose to Joe Biden to extend aid programme in effort to curb migration to the US.

Mexico’s president has said he plans to propose to his US counterpart Joe Biden a plan to extend to Central America a key Mexican social programme, as part of ongoing efforts to stem migration to the United States.

In a video message on Sunday, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he wants to propose offering the Sembrando Vida programme, which provides work and support for the agricultural sector in Central America.

“What I want to propose is that the program Sembrando Vida is implemented in Central America,” Lopez Obrador said in the video.

“So people aren’t forced to migrate, and it helps the environment.”

Thousands of migrants and asylum seekers from Central America and Mexico have taken often perilous journeys north towards the US in recent years, fuelled by economic hardships, gang violence and natural disasters, among other things.

US officials apprehended more than 172,000 people who had crossed into the country at its southern border with Mexico in March alone.

Many of those who crossed into the US were expelled under a Trump-era policy that effectively sealed the border to most migrants due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Biden administration is allowing unaccompanied children into the country, as well as some families – prompting it to deploy additional federal resources to the border and to open additional facilities to house people.

As of Thursday, more than 22,000 children were in US government custody, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reported, including more than 2,500 who were still in substandard facilities run by US border authorities.

“As it currently stands with a lot of these emergency intake sites, children are going in and there’s no way out,” Leecia Welch, the senior director of legal advocacy and child welfare at the National Center for Youth Law, told AP.  “They’re complete dead ends.”

Asylum seekers from Central America who were deported from the US walk near the Lerdo Stanton international border bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on March 30 [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

Biden has said he plans to address the “root causes” of migration, especially in the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to curb arrivals at the border.

Last month, he appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead that effort, and she is expected to visit Mexico and Guatemala soon for talks on migration.

A US official said last week that Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras had agreed to deploy troops to their borders in an effort to stem the flow of migration.

“We’ve secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border,” Tyler Moran, a special assistant to Biden for immigration policy, told the MSNBC news outlet.

Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador said on Sunday that he believed the Sembrando Vida programme could create thousands of jobs across southern Mexico and the Central American countries.