A dozen Latin leaders gathered Sunday in Mexico to discuss how to confront complicated and huge illegal migration flows, mostly to the United States.
Mexico wants to "combine efforts, will and resources to tackle the causes of the migratory phenomenon," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on X, formerly Twitter, as the summit got under way.
"This is a humanitarian issue on which we must work united," the president stressed.
This year alone, 1.7 million migrants arrived at the Mexican-U.S. border. And the migration is becoming a huge political hot potato in both North American nations, which each have presidential elections next year.
September alone saw 60,000 migrants arrive in Mexico from Venezuela, along with 35,000 Guatemalans and 27,000 Hondurans, according to the Mexican government.
Lopez Obrador welcomed his counterparts, Nicolas Maduro from Venezuela, Miguel Diaz-Canel from Cuba, and Gustavo Petro from Colombia, among others, including several foreign ministers.
They were meeting in Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, which has become the entry point for thousands of people coming from South America, Central America, the Caribbean and elsewhere, to try to make it across sprawling Mexico — and into the United States.
One migrant at a shelter nearby slammed what he called this "Summit of the Oppressors," and mentioned the presidents of Venezuela, and Cuba — the only Communist-ruled, one-party nation in the Americas.
"I suppose they are going to decide to deport all of us," said Jorge Rodriguez, a 33-year-old from Venezuela on his way northward.
Amid U.S. economic sanctions and a political and economic crisis, some 7.1 million Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years, creating challenges for its South American neighbors.
Some 130 Venezuelan migrants arrived back home Wednesday on a chartered plane from the United States on the first such deportation flight following an agreement between the two countries, despite the fact that Washington does not recognize Maduro's 2018 reelection.
The United States sends migrants back home, mainly to Central and South America, on about 70 flights every week, authorities said recently.
At the same time, the Biden administration also recently offered protection from deportation to 472,000 Venezuelans to allow them to obtain residence and work permits within 18 months — although this would apply only to those who arrived before July 31 of this year.
On Friday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden will host leaders from South American nations at a summit on Nov. 3.
The U.S. will reaffirm its commitment for cooperation on economic growth and tackling irregular migration, the White House said.
During the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders' Summit, Biden also will outline commitments to strengthen and expand U.S. efforts to drive regional economic growth, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The latest convening of leaders comes more than a year after Biden signed a non-binding declaration at a previous meeting - dubbed the "Summit of the Americas" - where 20 countries from the region agreed to a set of measures to confront the migration crisis.
Some material for this report came from Reuters.