Mexico, Central America cite COVID-19 concern over migration

Coronavirus

A woman seeking asylum in the U.S and waiting in Mexico, is tested at a clinic in Matamoros, Mexico, Nov. 17, 2020. A humanitarian organization led by U.S. military veterans has treated thousands of migrants over the past year at two clinics in a Mexican town across the border from Texas. But Global Response Management is attempting to go beyond mere crisis response and build a system to make it easier to track the health of migrants along their journey from Central America. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government said Wednesday that it and 10 other countries in North and Central America are worried about the health risks of COVID-19 among migrants without proper documents.

The statement by the 11-member Regional Conference on Migration suggests that Mexico and Central America could continue to turn back migrants on the basis of the perceived risks of the pandemic.

The group “expressed concern over the exposure of irregular migrants to situations of high risk to their health and their lives, primarily during the health emergency.”

Over the last year, authorities in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras have turned back or stopped migrant caravans seeking to reach the U.S. border, in some cases demanding they show visas or negative coronavirus tests.

A woman seeking asylum in the United States and living at a camp in Matamoros, Mexico, waits for COVID-19 antibody test result at a clinic, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Led by U.S. military veterans, Global Response Management is staffed by volunteers primarily from the U.S. and paid asylum seekers who were medical professionals in their homelands. The group has treated thousands of migrants over the past year at two clinics in Matamoros, including one inside the camp. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The group expressed its support for “safe, orderly and regulated” migration.

The group has also stressed the need to improve conditions in southern Mexico and Central America, so people won’t feel forced to emigrate.

The regional conference includes the United States, Canada, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

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