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In Ojinaga, López Obrador Calls For Humane Treatment Of Migrants

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López Obrador spoke for nearly 40 minutes in Ojinaga about social programs his administration is rolling out, but also talked about the agreement Mexico reached with the U.S. to address the number of migrants crossing the Southwest border. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

By Carlos Morales

Hours before Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's took the stage in Ojinaga, the streets of this rural border town were already lined with eager residents. Peddlers lined the central district, selling AMLO hats, tote bags and figurines, as locals jockeyed for a good seat.

López Obrador's visit to the border came roughly a week after a marquee agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, which outlines a plan for Mexico to send troops from its newly-formed National Guard to its southern border with Guatemala to help stem the flow of migrants.

Much of López Obrador's nearly 40-minute speech covered social programs his administration would soon roll out for children and adults with disabilities and students who attend public schools. But toward the end, López Obrador touched on immigration.

"An agreement was reached to address the migratory phenomenon," said López Obrador to a crowd of about 600. "This means that Mexico is going to help migrants, it is going to support those, who out of necessity, begin looking for a new life."

López Obrador didn't specifically mention sending national guard troops to Mexico's border with Guatemala but referenced a "plan" already underway at the southeast border of Mexico. "All of this, we're going to do with respect to human rights, we won't mistreat migrants," he said.

In addition to the plan to beef up Mexico's Southeast border, López Obrador briefly discussed a "program for the development of Central American countries."

That program, said López Obrador, would help see the creation of job opportunities in countries where migrants are traveling from. "You know it well, people don't immigrate for pleasure, they do it out of necessity."

As he's done in the past, López Obrador referenced the Bible when discussing the treatment of migrants, which along this stretch of the border have largely been from Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

López Obrador called for a solution that would allow migrants to "work and be happy where they were born, where their families are, where their traditions are, where their cultures are."

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.