MEXICO CITY, April 13 (Reuters) - Mexico's government said on Tuesday it has deployed at least 12,000 officials in southern Mexico to deal with an increase in migrant arrivals, and urged Central Americans not to take children along to facilitate their passage.
Speaking after the White House said Mexico had 10,000 troops on its southern border with Guatemala to contain migration, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a regular news conference that flows of migrant children were at unprecedented levels.
Ebrard and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador both expressed concern that children were being used by human smugglers to make it easier for migrants to transit Mexico, and urged Central Americans to desist from the practice.
"This is serious," Lopez Obrador said.
People smugglers often advise migrants to send children on the journey north to take advantage of protections afforded to minors, officials say.
The U.S. government on Monday referred to Mexico's commitment to deploy security personnel as pressure grows on President Joe Biden to slow the number of migrant arrivals on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Ebrard said at least 12,000 officials, consisting of National Guard members, national migration authority staff, and health and welfare officials, had for weeks been working in various southern states to help tackle the challenge.
"We've never seen trafficking of minors on this scale," he said, noting the government needed to boost infrastructure and facilities for looking after migrant children.
"This is what we told the Americans, this is what Mexico is doing, but it's not enough, you need to do something in Central America," Ebrard added, reiterating that the region needed developmental aid to stem the departure of people. (Reporting by Raul Cortes; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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