Mexico reaches agreement with Venezuela to deport migrants

The fifth round of peace dialogues between Colombia's government and the National Liberation Army, in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexico has signed an agreement with Venezuela to deport migrants and reached deals with Mexican and Venezuelan companies to employ them, Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena told a news conference on Thursday.

Venezuelans have been among the largest groups of migrants arriving in Mexico on their way to the United States, as they seek to flee their country's political and economic crisis.

There are 4,000-5,000 Venezuelan migrants currently stranded in Mexico, mostly in the city of Tijuana.

U.S. citizens are increasingly concerned about migrants reaching their borders, with a Reuters-Ipsos poll earlier this year finding that 17% considered the issue was the most important problem facing the country, up 11% from December.

Venezuela's government did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

"The plan lacks legal basis," said Enrique Lucero, the municipal director of migrant care in Tijuana.

Lucero called on authorities to normalize migration routes for people seeking asylum in the United States.

The Mexican government said it will give migrants in the country around $110 a month, part of a program in which they will also have the opportunity to work for different companies in both countries.

Venezuelan brewers Empresas Polar and state oil firm PDVSA, and Mexican breadmaker Bimbo and retailer FEMSA are among the companies participating in the program, Barcena said.

The companies did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Noe Torres in Mexico City and Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Sarah Morland and Nia Williams)