NEW YORK – Mexico and Guatemala have reached an agreement that is intended to make it easier and safer for Central Americans, including unaccompanied minors, to enter the United States illegally.
Though largely unreported in the U.S. mainstream media, the two nations agreed on July 7, in a presidential-level meeting in Mexico, to make it legal and safe for Central American immigrants, including unaccompanied minors, to cross Mexico’s border with Guatemala and transit Mexico en route to the U.S. border at the Rio Grande.
The agreement apparently does not recognize that the result of such trips – entry into the United States – remains illegal.
But to facilitate the program, the Mexican government announced plans to issue a new “Regional Visitor Card” that will provide documentation for the Central Americans to remain in Mexico as long as it takes to get to the United States.
Under the auspices of a “Southern Border Program,” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Guatemalan President Otto Pérez, in a meeting in Mexico, agreed to take five concrete steps designed to “protect and safeguard the human rights of migrants who enter and transit Mexico, so as to order international routes of passage [in and through Mexico] to increase and develop the security of the region.”
The five steps in Mexican “Southern Border Program” included the following action steps:
1. Mexico established for the Central American migrants transiting through Mexico a new Mexican-government issued “Regional Visitor Card” that instructs the Mexican National Institute of Migration to recognize the holder as having been granted by the Mexican government the right to a “temporary stay” in Mexico. The purpose of the “Regional Visitor Card” is to grant Central American migrants entering Mexico across the border with Guatemala enough time and legal status to complete their journey to the United States.
2. Mexico plans to open 10 new border crossing checkpoints on the border with Guatemala and two more on the border with Belize to function as “Comprehensive Care Centers for Border Transit,” designed to register the Central American migrants with Mexican immigration authorities and to issue “Regional Cards” as part of a formal government processing allowing migrants from Central America to transit into Mexico on an official basis.
3. Mexico has decided to expand throughout the country the five medical care units originally established in Chiapas to give medical aid and temporary shelter to Central American migrants transiting through Mexico, with special attention given to unaccompanied minors.
4. Mexico has decided to create a new “Office for the Coordination of Comprehensive Social Services for Migrants on the Southern Border” to be attached to the Ministry of the Interior, tasked with coordinating interagency Mexican government efforts to provide humanitarian care and assistance provided by the Mexican government to migrants crossing the border with Guatemala, so as to guarantee respect for the human rights of the migrants.
5. Mexico pledged to continue playing an active role working with international organizations to participate in conferences organized to promote legal immigration, including continued sponsorship of forums including Mexico’s National Conference on Migration.
In the spirit that migration of Central Americans from Guatemala through Mexico will be more secure if it is more formally organized, Peña Nieto announced Mexico’s new “Southern Border Program” was a step in the right direction.
Guatemalan President Otto Pérez noted the border between Guatemala and Mexico “offers an opportunity to show how we can improve the treatment of migrants and the relations between two peoples – Guatemalans and Mexicans – who have traditionally been brothers.”
Peña Nieto also explained that the governments of Mexico and Guatemala have been working in cooperation with authorities in El Salvador and Honduras “to work in the same direction to make Central American migration more organized and safer.”
Peña Nieto further announced that the Mexican Ministry of the Interior, working together with officials from Guatemala, will strengthen law enforcement intelligence gathering regarding Central American migrants to develop a technological platform to share in gathering the real-time biometric information believed essential for a formal registration process to issue the migrants appropriate Mexican government documentation for use in their transit across Mexico.
In announcing the agreement reached between Mexico and Guatemala, the national edition of El Universal released a video in which former prime minister of Greece, George Papandreou, gave a presentation in English (with Spanish subtitles).
Papandreou’s purpose appears to be to lecture the United States regarding the current flood of Central American immigrants, including unaccompanied minors, arriving in the U.S. daily, and illegally.
Papandreou encouraged the United States to extend the legal right to Central American immigrants to stay in the U.S., housing them in temporary shelters where they can receive secure and humane treatment while the United States creates for them a pathway to citizenship, as well as providing the right to seek employment and the opportunity to be reunited in the United States with their families.
The flood of illegal alien immigrants from Central America, especially children, has spiked in recent months, with tens of thousands flooding into the United States. The U.S. government already is transporting them to multiple other locations to house them.
Critics of the U.S. president say his announcement of a policy to defer deportation actions against children has sent a message to Central America that if children can reach the United States, they not only will face no punishment, but will be granted housing, medical, education and even legal benefits.