Thousands of Central American migrants clashed with Mexican authorities on Monday as they attempted to cross the Mexico-Guatemala border despite being denied in their requests to continue traveling toward the U.S.
The caravan consisted of roughly 4,000 migrants who began traveling last week Honduras last week. Some members of the group forced their way through a border gate while others waded through the shallow waters of the Suchiate River. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their native Central American countries.
The caravan, now on Mexican soil, is currently being blocked from traveling through Mexico by Mexican National Guard members, some in riot gear. Over the weekend, authorities used pepper spray to deter migrants and both sides were seen throwing rocks at each other.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised the Trump administration that Mexico would enhance its efforts to prevent the mass migration of undocumented immigrants, most from Central America, which overwhelmed authorities last spring. Mexico has stepped up security at its own southern border, adding checkpoints and deploying the national guard to increase border control.
The leaders of the Honduran caravan wrote a letter to the Mexican president requesting that “all the members of the caravan receive the permission to move freely through Mexican territory. We are committed to you and your government to maintain order and discipline in the places where we transit.”
Mexico originally sent mixed messages to the migrants, Obrador saying that more than 4,000 jobs were available to them in Mexico, but later stating that most migrants would be deported who turned themselves in to authorities.
President Trump has pointed to the large caravans of undocumented migrants from Central America traveling to the U.S. as a reason to build his long-promised border wall, especially after the flow of asylum seekers surged at the U.S.-Mexico border during the spring.
In September, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the vast majority of migrant families who enter the country illegally will no longer be eligible for so-called “catch and release” due to the implementation of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which require that migrants wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are being adjudicated.