Oct. 28 (UPI) — The Mexican government offered temporary residency and work permits to migrants who agreed to stay in southern states in an effort to minimize their northward flow toward the United States.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Friday that the Central American migrants — mostly from Honduras and Guatemala — could also have access to healthcare, housing in hostels and education if they remained in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.
“Mexico wants to protect and help you,” he said.
A group of migrants — at its peak, about 7,000 people in total — set off weeks ago to travel by foot to seek asylum, many aiming to cross into the United States in Tijuana. Mexican officials broke up a second, smaller group of 200 to 300, arresting more than 100 for deportation.
The United States is considering sending troops to the Southwest border with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants, which President Donald Trump has described as a “caravan.”
The group was more than 1,000 miles away from the U.S. border as of Friday and it could take weeks for them to reach their destination.
Mexico’s plan, called This is Your Home, applies to Central Americans seeking — or planning to seek — refugee status in Mexico.
“This plan is only for those who comply with Mexican laws, and it’s a first step towards a permanent solution for those who are granted refugee status in Mexico,” Peña Nieto said.
President Donald Trump last week threatened to cut aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador over the migrant group. He also blamed the Mexican military and police for allowing the group to go through on its way to the United States.
“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S.,” he said. “We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”