Mexican president to increase aid for farmers and urban youth in Central America, push US to increase temporary work visas
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Mexico’s president is flying to Central America and Cuba this week to discuss migration and economic aid. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s five-day trip from Thursday follows talks with the US government on joint actions to curb rising migration flows north.
“We discussed with Biden the development programs of Central America, migration issues. We are convinced that we must address the causes (of migration) and create jobs in Central American countries,” said said Lopez Obrador on Wednesday during a press conference broadcast on YouTube.
Migrant encounters in the United States continue to reach historic highs, with most migrants coming from Mexico, Central America and Cuba.
Lopez Obrador said he would speak with Presidents Alejandro Giammatei of Guatemala, Xiomara Castro of Honduras and Nayib Bukele of El Salvador about economic assistance programs to curb migration. He also meets Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel, although Lopez Obrador did not mention aid to that country.
“There is not enough investment yet. We invest in Central America according to our means, with programs like Sembrado Vida (Sowing Life) and Jovenes Construyendo el Futuro (Young People Build the Future). In El Salvador, already 10,000 farmers are receiving support from the Mexican government so that they can continue working in their cities and do not feel obliged to migrate,” said the Mexican president.
Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard met with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ahead of the planned rescinding of the Title 42 border public health order. , which for two years enabled US border agents to rapidly deport newly arrived migrants.
The order is set to expire on May 23, though a federal judge issued a temporary freeze that the administration is challenging in court.
The Biden administration is also pushing job creation in Central America, with Vice President Kamala Harris reaching out to big US companies to invest or expand their businesses in the region.
Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that might not be enough.
“We are trying to convince the US government to make quick investments. They think it is enough to promote private investment, that if factories open in Central America, jobs will be created and people will be able to work close to home. It’s good but it takes time,” said Lopez Obrador. “The other thing (we need to do) is to increase the number of temporary (American) visas in Central America. It is a paradox that the United States lacks labor and has an immigration policy that does not let in this labor.
Mexico’s Seeding Life program works by paying farmers in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras a small salary to keep working their land. The Youths Building the Future program funds internships in factories, small businesses and farms.
Lopez Obrador said he was trying to convince the Biden administration to combine Central American financial aid with temporary U.S. work visas, which would be another incentive for people to opt out of trying to s permanently settle in the United States by any means available.