With President Donald Trump threatening to close the U.S.-Mexican border if a caravan of immigrants from Central America were allowed to teach the United States, Mexico beefed up security forces along its southern border with Guatemala in anticipation of a clash with migrants.
However, as of Sunday the migrants remained moving north, with their ranks apparently swelled by Mexicans joining the caravan.
Even before the migrants had reached the border, Mexico on Thursday flew riot gear-equipped troops into position.
Karla Zabs, Mexico bureau chief and Latin American correspondent for BuzzFeed News, tweeted out word of the arrival Wednesday of two planes of Federal Police.
MIGRANT CARAVAN: Two federal police-filled planes w/anti-riot gear landed near the Mexico/Guatemala border this morn (vid source: Policia Federal de Mexico). pic.twitter.com/UyneeXlPnu
— KarlaZabs (@karlazabs) October 17, 2018
That action came a day after Trump sent a no-nonsense warning to Central American nations.
“We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END),” Trump tweeted.
We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2018
As Mexican officials waffled on their commitment to block the migrants, Trump later shared a similar warning to Mexico.
“I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” Trump tweeted.
….In addition to stopping all payments to these countries, which seem to have almost no control over their population, I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2018
Initially, it seemed that Mexico would resist the migrants. On Friday, after a wave of migrants broke through a fence on the Guatemala side of the bridge connecting the two counties, Mexican federal police in riot gear used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
However on Sunday, some of the migrants were once again on the road, this time moving deeper into Mexico.
Migrants were being taken Sunday by bus to the Mexican city of Tapachula, about 23 miles north of the Mexico-Guatemala border.
At the border, about 5,100 migrants were staying at shelters in Ciudad Hidalgo, according to Gerardo Hernandez. He estimated up to 2,000 more were camped out in the central square, USA Today reported.
“You can’t even walk, there’s just so many people,” he said. “So far, they’re all peaceful, thank God.”
Marchers in Mexico said they had no plans to stop.
“No one will stop us, only God,” said Olivin Castellanos, 58, of Villanueva, Honduras, according to USA Today. “We knocked down the door and we continue walking.”
Mexican authorities tried to create an orderly system for evaluating which migrants it would allow into the country.
Mexico said it was giving “priority attention” to 264 migrants and that 640 had requested asylum.
Mexico estimated about 2,200 migrants remained on a bridge dividing Mexico and Guatemala, while about 900 migrants tried to cross into Mexico illegally, according to CNN.
The Honduran government has estimated about 2,000 of the migrants have given up their trek and are retuning back to the nation where the march began. Officials have suggested that the growing size of the caravan represents Mexican citizens who have joined in the caravan in order to enter the U.S.
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