The U.S. and Mexico signed an agreement in June to encourage economic development in Central America to combat issues surrounding migration between the two countries. The deal was signed with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador as part of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ first international trip since taking office, during which she stopped in Mexico and Guatemala. While details of its implementation are limited and vague, the agreement plans to assist countries like Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, which have seen high populations of migrants fleeing to the U.S. The agreement has a primary focus on economic development and aims to tackle internal issues, such as poverty, that are forcing migrants to seek asylum. According to a Reuters report, Mexico plans on utilizing $130 million and $250 million from the U.S. to support workers’ rights and promote more investment in the country, respectively. The goal of the deal is to improve the lives and well-being of those living in Central America to mitigate the migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
A statement from the Mexican government defends the agreement with the U.S. stating, “The governments of Mexico and the United States subscribe to a common humanist vision, under which orderly, safe and regular migration flows are sought together with cooperation mechanisms that confront the structural causes of migration. In that sense, the memorandum of understanding between both countries reflects the shared will to sustainably boost economic development in the south of Mexico and the north of Central America.”
Both Mexico and the U.S. seem to share the same sense of optimism about the new agreement, as similar sentiments were expressed by Ricardo Zúñiga, the U.S. Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle. He states that “it’s very important to show that the United States and Mexico are collaborating and trying to improve conditions on the ground among our neighbors, because of the importance that other countries in Central America have for both of us.”
The agreement between the U.S. and Mexico does appear to be a step in the right direction in terms of the future of the migrant crisis. By addressing the causes of the large-scale migrations, there is an emphasis on the migrants themselves, who face the struggles of the migrant crisis first-hand. The deal could help alleviate the pressure on the U.S. immigration system, provide the financial aid needed for the advancement of their home countries, and arrive at solutions that are more oriented towards the needs of the people.
However, whether the deal will actually bring about real change is another point of concern that needs to be considered. While deals and agreements are crucial for paving the way towards peace, they won’t mean anything without undelayed and unbiased action. Furthermore, the current situation on the ground is not encouraging, as the migration crisis has only gotten worse since President Joe Biden took office. After Biden ended many of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s stricter immigration policies, the BBC reported that approximately 180,034 migrants were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in May 2021, the largest monthly number since April 2000. According to the New York Times, a record 20,000 migrant children are currently being detained at the border, many of whom are being held in overcrowded conditions.
The migrant crisis has certainly escalated in recent months, placing the spotlight on the U.S. and Mexico to cooperate. The recent deal between the two countries should be welcomed, as it attempts to solve the migrant crisis by addressing its root causes. However, the surge of migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border may pose more problems that counteract and stall the progress towards peace. For that reason, it is important to also address the humanitarian crisis at the border, which will worsen as more migrants decide to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. Focusing on both the long-term and short-term solutions to the migrant crisis will hopefully lead to a safe and lasting solution to the crisis at the border.