Mexican president to propose extension of welfare programs to curb migration

FILE PHOTO: A group of migrants from Honduras walk along the railway track on their way to the United States in Huimanguillo, Tabasco, Mexico March 30, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday that he plans to propose his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden an extension of one of his key welfare programs to Central America to help curb immigration.

Hunger and poverty have driven tens of thousands of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras north in an attempt to cross the U.S. border.

"What I want to propose is that the program Sembrando Vida is implemented in Central America," Lopez Obrador said in a video message from Palenque in southern Mexico. "So people aren't forced to migrate, and it helps the environment."

One of Lopez Obrador's key welfare programs, Sembrando Vida aims to provide Mexicans with work and support the country's agriculture.

Lopez Obrador said in three years, the program could create up to 1 million 300,000 jobs across southern Mexico and the Central American nations.

Participants could earn a work visa for the United States after successfully participating in the program for three years, he said, and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship after another three years. He did not give further details.

(Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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