Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced that he will meet on October 22 with the presidents of countries of migrants origin in the continent and those who are part of the route taken by thousands of people seeking to reach mainly the United States. However, despite being a country of origin and transit, the president did not mention Nicaragua.
The meeting will be held on Sunday, October 22, in Palenque, Chiapas, according to Lopez Obrador’s statements during one of his morning press conferences on Monday, October 9.
“I am inviting the Presidents of Ecuador, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Prime Minister of Belize because they are the countries that have more influence in everything related to migration. Either because it is their people, the inhabitants of their countries, who are emigrating or, as in the case of Costa Rica, Panamá, and Mexico —even in the case of Colombia–, they are countries through which migrants pass. Yes, the migratory influx, the migratory flow, has grown a lot,” said Lopez Obrador.
He did not mention Nicaragua, even though, in the same conference, Lopez Obrador showed current figures on the passage of migrants through Mexico, among which it was read that “nationals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, together with Colombia and Ecuador, represent 40% of the irregular flow of migrants.”
The Mexican President said the meeting will be held on his initiative to address the migratory crisis. “We are going to present a proposal to see if we can reach an agreement, which will help a lot because we cannot stay with our arms crossed. The migratory flow is growing a lot,” he insisted.
Majority confirm their attendance
Lopez Obrador commented that most presidents have already confirmed their attendance at the October 22 meeting. “I only need to speak with the presidents of Guatemala and Colombia. All the others have confirmed that they will attend, and we will try, among ourselves…it is like a good neighborly agreement against poverty…to seek that, with mutual help, we can address the migration problem.”
Lopez Obrador emphasized that one of the issues will be how to prevent people from having to leave their countries. “The approach is what can we do to provide attention to the people in the country of origin, those who decide to leave out of necessity. How do we guarantee that there is work, that there is welfare in the people of our countries to defuse, to reduce the migratory flow, not just thinking about coercive measures, checkpoints, walls, militarizing the borders,” he said, adding that if presidents invited could not attend the meeting, their respective foreign ministers would come instead.
During the conference, the Mexican President also said he would meet with US President Joe Biden in mid-November in San Francisco, California, to address the migration issue.
Nicaraguan migration to the U.S. continues
Nicaragua would be left out of the meeting despite the significant increase in migration to the United States in recent years, mainly to the United States.
According to US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) figures 2021, 87,567 “encounters” or detentions of Nicaraguans were detected at the US-Mexico border. In 2022, there were 217,092, or 2.4 times more than the previous year.
With this sudden and sharp increase, the US government announced in early 2023 that it would no longer receive Nicaraguans seeking asylum at the border. Instead, it established a program known as “humanitarian parole” to allow Nicaraguans to apply for a visa that would enable them to live and work in that country for two years. Still, to apply, those interested must have a passport, pay for a plane ticket, and have a “sponsor” in the United States to make the request for the process.
Since the “humanitarian parole” began in January and until July 2023, 30,700 Nicaraguans emigrated under this program. To this figure, those Nicaraguans intercepted at the southern US border must be added: according to CBP, 41,026 Nicaraguans were “found” between January and August 2023. This means that, despite immigration restrictions, at least 71,726 Nicaraguans left their country for the United States.