A caravan of Central American migrants bound for the United States faced a setback Friday when they clashed with Mexican police as they tried to cross from Guatemala to Mexico.
The caravan, estimated to be up to 4,000 people strong, originated in northern Honduras on Saturday. Marchers said they were fleeing high crime and unemployment in the country. The Trump administration has called upon Central American governments to stop the caravan before it reaches U.S. soil.
On Friday afternoon, part of the caravan broke through chain link gates on the Guatemalan end of the bridge over the Suchiate River connecting Guatemala with Mexico.
Images from a Daily Mail report about the march showed Guatemalan officers, vastly outnumbered by the marchers, at first trying to restrain the crowd but later allowing it to move past them.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) October 19, 2018
“One way or another, we will pass,” the migrants chanted Friday.
“We are not smugglers, we are immigrants!” the crowd shouted.
The migrant caravan of 3,000 breaks through fence barrier, crosses from Guatemala into Mexico.
Big question: what will Mexico do now? Most migrants have told me they don’t want to stay in Mexico. Their goal is US.
— Mariana_Atencio (@marianaatencio) October 19, 2018
Despite the breakthrough, the migrants did not enter Mexico.
Mexican police with riot shields awaited the migrants, KOLO reported.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the migrants threw rocks and bottles at the police.
About 50 of the migrants pushed through to confront the police, who unleashed pepper spray on the migrants. After that, they and the rest pulled back for the time being.
The gates that had been forced by the migrants were then closed again. A Mexican police officer addressed the migrants through a bullhorn, telling them “We need you to stop the aggression.”
Mexico’s ambassador to Guatemala said Mexico would allow a policy of “metered entry” for those wanting to cross, but was not planning to allow everyone to pass through Mexico.
“It is an illegal activity,” said Ambassador Luis Manuel Lopez Moreno. He said 100 migrants had been allowed to apply for refugee status in Mexico, according to KKTV. Other reports suggested Mexico would allow 100 individuals per day into the country, but only those who met Mexico’s conditions for entry.
It was unclear if the caravan would remain along the border as this took place.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray said Mexico will allow those with legal documents to enter, or those who fit Mexico’s definition of a refugee. He said those who cross illegally would be deported.
Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you! https://t.co/wf7sE0DHFT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2018
The caravan has been a major concern of President Donald Trump, and he has appealed to Mexico to stop it before the caravan reaches the U.S., as did part of an April collection of migrants who reached San Diego.
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