Guatemalan president suggests temporary immigrant status for those headed to US

 The President of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom, wants to propose to the Mexican government to grant temporary immigrantion permits to Central Americans who cross Mexico to reach the United States, as a measure to avoid falling into the hands of organized crime. Speaking in a interview with a local newspaper, Colom wants to reach an agreement with Mexico in order to find "a safe and valid way to legalize migrants and, secondly, to strengthen our relationship with social networks that welcome immigrants."

Guatemalan emigrants and others from the Central American isthmus have encountered armed gangs of thugs, and corrupt police, who have murdered, raped, and extorted people trying to reach the U.S. by hitching rides on trains headed north. In a notorious case in August 2010, dozens of Latin American immigrants were found murdered - allegedly by a drug gang - near the U.S./Mexico border. Mexico has come under continued scrutiny and criticism for its government's treatment of migrants.

Colom recognized the "important work" offered by dozens of shelters to migrants passing through Mexico. Many of these are operated by Catholic parishes and religious orders. Referring to the issue of documentation, Colom said "To regulate migrants would resolve many of the issues surrounding kidnappers, fraudsters, the coyote (criminal gangs), and people traffickers."

Each year between 200,000 and 300,000 undocumented Central American immigrants cross Mexico intending to reach the United States. An untold number of these are murdered when they are not able to pay ransom demanded by criminal gangs. Colom suggested that a "temporary, transitory document" be offered to these migrants and thus legalize their status in Mexico.

Regarding the 2010 massacre of 72 Central Americans at Tamaulipas, Colom said that "it was a terrible thing.I received the bodies of the murdered Guatemalans, and we still have to catch those responsible for the kidnapping of 50 migrants in Chahuites, Oaxaca," he said. 



Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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