The US is struggling to house and process an increasing number of migrants arriving at its southern border with Mexico.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday urged Washington to help spur development in Central America to tackle the root causes of illegal immigration before a meeting with US officials over how to contain a jump in arrivals at the border.
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 United States.
“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.”
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. Initial talks are being held in Mexico on Tuesday.
Jacobson was due to meet Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard on Monday afternoon.
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.
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.