Published:Wednesday 12:07 AM
Mexico’s president said Tuesday that he rejected a a request by the United States to set up migrant transit centres in Mexico.
Neighbouring Guatemala has set up one such centre, where migrants can apply for US work and refugee visas.
But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he would prefer to have such centres in countries that are the sources of migration, despite the fact that a considerable number of migrants enter the US from Mexico.
López Obrador said that he would raise the subject in a meeting of Latin American leaders he will host later this month, suggesting that the countries might agree to a common plan on such sites.
“We have been looking at setting up sites in Mexico, because they (the United States) have asked for it,” López Obrador said. “We have not accepted it, first we want to talk to the presidents,” referring to the October 22 meeting with the leaders of 11 countries that are on migration routes.
The meeting will be held in the southern Mexico city of Palenque. Among those expected to attend are Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize.
Migrant transit centres financed by the United States have been set up in Guatemala to receive applications from Central American citizens seeking to apply for work visas, family reunifications or refugee status.
The centres are part of a larger migratory strategy aimed at reducing the large number of migrants from Latin American and the Caribbean to the United States.
Eventually, applicants with scheduled appointments will be received at offices to be opened in eight places across Guatemala.
The influx of migrants has caused tension between the United States and Mexico.
On Monday, the Mexican government sent a diplomatic note to the United States complaining about the closure of some freight or train border crossings because of the large number of migrants gathered on the border.
Mexico also protested Texas’ truck inspections that have caused major delays at border crossings. López Obrador claimed Monday that Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to enforce additional truck inspections was “very irresponsible” and politically motivated.
Mexico’s national freight transport chamber said Sunday that 19,000 trucks were delayed at the border. The freight association claimed the delayed trucks were carrying about US$1.9 billion in goods.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said it had started “enhanced commercial vehicle safety inspections” on September 19 in crossing around El Paso and Del Rio, Texas, “to deter the placement of migrants and other smuggling activity” and detect unsafe vehicles.