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Belize among countries to discuss U.S. migrant transit centers in Mexico

Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2023. 5:22 am CST.

By Horace Palacio: Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced on Tuesday his denial of a U.S. proposition to establish migrant transit centers in Mexico. This move comes in spite of neighboring Guatemala’s recent initiation of such a center where migrants can request U.S. employment and asylum visas.

While a significant number of migrants journey to the U.S. through Mexico, President López Obrador conveyed his preference for placing such facilities in the primary source countries of migration. The Mexican president plans to discuss the issue with Latin American leaders during an upcoming summit scheduled for later this month.

“We’ve considered setting up these centers in Mexico since the U.S. has expressed this desire,” said López Obrador. “However, we haven’t agreed yet. First, we want to converse with the presidents.” He was alluding to the meeting set for Oct. 22 with leaders from 11 nations situated along migration pathways. This conference is to occur in Palenque, a city in southern Mexico. Countries including Belize, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Panama are expected participants.

The United States has already financed the establishment of migrant transit centers in Guatemala. These centers are designed for Central American citizens to apply for various U.S. permits, from work visas to family reunification and refugee status. This is part of a broader U.S. strategy to mitigate the substantial migration from Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the future, these Guatemalan centers plan to serve applicants with scheduled meetings at eight distinct locations throughout the country. The situation surrounding migration has created friction between the neighboring countries of the U.S. and Mexico.

This tension was evident on Monday when Mexico conveyed a diplomatic note to the U.S., expressing concerns about certain border closures affecting freight or train transit, resulting from the high concentration of migrants at the boundary.

Mexico has also voiced objections regarding the intensified truck inspections in Texas, leading to significant delays at the border crossings. President López Obrador criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for this decision, labeling it “very irresponsible” and suggesting political motivations.

The National Freight Transport Chamber in Mexico reported that around 19,000 trucks faced delays at the U.S.-Mexico border, holding goods estimated at $1.9 billion.

In response, the Texas Department of Public Safety mentioned that they initiated “enhanced commercial vehicle safety inspections” on Sept. 19 near El Paso and Del Rio, Texas. This was done to prevent migrant smuggling and identify potentially unsafe vehicles.

 

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