Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appealed to the United States on Wednesday to take urgent action to tackle the migrant crisis reverberating across the Americas.
Tens of thousands of migrants, many of them Haitians previously living in South America, have arrived in recent weeks in Mexico hoping to enter the United States.
Instead they have found themselves stranded in a crowded city in southern Mexico or at the border with the United States, their hopes of being given asylum quickly fading.
"Enough talking, it's time to act," Lopez Obrador told reporters.
Mexico and Central American countries were still waiting for several billion dollars pledged by Washington for economic development to reduce the need for migrants to flee poverty, he said.
"There was a commitment that they were going to invest four billion -- two billion for Central America and two billion for Mexico. Nothing has come -- nothing," Lopez Obrador said.
At the same time he added that US President Joe Biden "is interested" in solving the problem and said he was hopeful there would be a regional agreement on economic development.
"I think there will be results," he said.
The Mexican leader has repeatedly proposed expanding one of his domestic welfare programs into Central America with the aim of generating 1.2 million jobs in the region.
He has also proposed allowing participants to qualify for a US work visa after three years.
The US authorities have begun to repatriate Haitians by air from the Texas border city of Del Rio, prompting a warning from the United Nations that people with genuine asylum claims may be at risk.
- 'They're deporting everyone' -
Tens of thousands more migrants are stranded in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, waiting for documents that would allow them to continue north.
Many had been living in Chile and Brazil, which gave them refuge after the 2010 earthquake that left around 200,000 people dead in Haiti.
They have crossed up to a dozen countries, including Panama and Colombia, where thousands are now stranded near the border.
Some say they left due to a lack of jobs or difficulties renewing their work permits during the Covid-19 pandemic, while others are driven by a desire to join relatives in the United States.
"We're desperate," said 28-year-old Maximil Marcadieu, who spent nearly two months traveling from Chile only to find himself stuck with thousands of others under a bridge at the Mexican-US border.
"Many people dream of going to the United States and now they're deporting everyone," he said in Ciudad Acuna on the Mexican side of the frontier where migrants buy food.
In the town of Necocli on the northern coast of Colombia, some 19,000 mainly Haitian migrants are waiting for seats on boats that cross the Gulf of Uraba to Acandi near the border with Panama.
Once across, the migrants start the dangerous trek on foot through the Darien jungle, where they battle snakes, steep ravines, swollen rivers, tropical downpours and criminals often linked to drug trafficking.
Under an agreement between the governments of Colombia and Panama, no more than 650 migrants are allowed to make the trip daily.
More than 50,000 people have crossed the border Colombia-Panama border so far this year.
Given the magnitude of the crisis, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week that a regional agreement was needed on migration.
Blinken, Ebrard and Central American foreign ministers are expected to discuss this issue on Thursday at the UN General Assembly in New York.
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Wednesday he had ordered an investigation after images showed horse-mounted immigration officers chasing down Haitian migrants at the border.
The images "do not reflect who we are as a country, nor do they reflect who the United States Customs and Border Protection is," Mayorkas said.