Central American migrants who set out from their countries intending to reach the United States have begun to settle in Mexico, indicating a new migratory phenomenon, experts say.

"This is new," Gustavo Mohar Betancourt, Mexico's former undersecretary of Population, Migration, and Religious Affairs, told Efe.

"We notice they are settling in central Mexican cities like Guadalajara, Aguascalientes and Queretaro. On the border there are more and more (Central American migrants) in Tijuana," Mohar, now a private consultant, said.

When he addressed the "Managing Borders in North America: Charting the Future" conference, he said that some municipal governments, such as that of Tijuana - next door to San Diego, California - have begun to protest about this migratory phenomenon.

"It's basically people from Honduras and El Salvador," Mohar said, adding that the situation should be treated as a "yellow light" to reflect its threat level.

"In Tijuana," he said, "those who can't cross over to the United States are staying here, and there are more of them stranded here all the time."

Mohar was the chief Mexican negotiator on migration matters in bilateral conversations under the administrations of President George W. Bush and Vicente Fox.

Another speaker, David Aguilar, former acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the waves of Central Americans headed for the United States have increased over the past two years.

"The immigration of Central Americans has increased by 50 percent," he said. "Basically Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans."

Central Americans cross Mexico's southern border by land, and after traversing Mexican territory they must find a way to enter the United State.

In recent years the number of complaints about the abuse of Central American immigrants in Mexico has grown. EFE