Thousands in Honduran Migrant Caravan, Crosses into Mexico
A Guatemalan border town held several thousand migrants by October 18, a portion of whom decided to continue forward and crossed illegally into Mexico on Thursday night.
A caravan of an estimated 5,000 Central American migrants traveling toward the United States crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico over the weekend, despite efforts by the federal police force to regulate their entry.
These individuals are now traveling toward the city of Tapachula while about 500 Mexican federal police have fallen back to guard but not block this route, according to the Washington Post.
The location of the city of Tapachula within the state of Chiapas, which shares a border with Guatemala.
The caravan began in Honduras on October 13 and accumulated a great number of migrants from El Salvador and Guatemala before it reached the Chiapas border. Many of those who have been interviewed by the media cited widespread violence and poverty as their drive to leave their home countries and expressed their desire to continue north to find work in the United States.
The Guatemalan border town of Tecún Umán held several thousand migrants by October 18, a portion of whom decided to continue forward and crossed illegally into Mexico on Thursday night. By migrating in a mass group, individuals said they felt they would be less vulnerable to crime or threat along the way. Many are traveling with young children.
US and Mexico Collaborate on Migrant Caravan Issue
In days previous, the Mexican government announced that it will detain and deport those who enter illegally, and it sent an initial deployment of more than 200 federal police officers to the border to help manage the scene and secure the border.
President Donald Trump, who threatened via Twitter to deploy the United States military to its own southern border and shut down all immigration if the caravan was allowed passage, praised this action.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with top Mexican officials in Mexico City on Friday to discuss the caravan and urged them to stop the caravan’s procession toward the US border.
“This is an organized effort to come through and violate the sovereignty of Mexico,” Pompeo said in a press conference following the meeting. “We’re prepared to do all that we can to support the decisions that Mexico makes about how they are going to address this very serious and important disuse to their country.”
Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray solicited the help of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees on Thursday to assist the National Immigration Institution in determining the validity of certain requests for asylum.
Migrant Caravan Clashes With Mexican Police
Despite the warnings, thousands attempted to force their way across the Suchiate river that divides Ciudad Hidalgo from Tecún Umán and cross into the Mexican territory with visa applications this weekend. The caravan broke through a Guatemalan border fence midday on Friday, but on the bridge that crosses the Suchiate, they were met by the Mexican police force, who eventually used pepper spray to deter the crowd. A number of officers, migrants and members of the press all sustained injuries.
A view of the Suchiate River from the bridge connecting the two nations, with rafts carrying migrants across visible in the distance.
“Every time there’s a [migrant] caravan there are police sent to the southern border,…but we’ve never seen anything as dramatic as we’re seeing today,” said Eunice Rendon, coordinator of migrant advocacy group Agenda Migrante.
Caravan Continues On
After the clash with the Mexican police force on Friday, the first fraction of Central American migrants from this caravan entered into Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, and applied for refugee status in Mexico.
By Saturday, 640 individuals had presented asylum claims to the government, according to authorities.
However, the overwhelming majority felt that the bureaucratic process would cause excessive delay. Several thousand crossed the river on Saturday night and early Sunday morning by swimming or taking rafts crafted from rubber tires.
The caravan regrouped in Ciudad Hidalgo and chose to resume traveling on Sunday without documentation.