Mexico opens border to women and children from migrant caravan

Marco Green
October 21, 2018

Mexican officials are refusing to yield to demands from a caravan of Central American migrants that they be allowed to enter the country en masse from a border bridge with Guatemala where they camped out overnight.

Sections of the crowd hurled rocks and other objects at hundreds of riot police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas - stalling the caravan which left Honduras last Saturday determined to reach the United States.

Mexico's ambassador to Guatemala says his country has chose to enforce a policy of "metered entry" since thousands of migrants are clamoring to cross.

The president has repeatedly claimed that the migrants, and immigrants more broadly, lead to increased crime rates and allow illegal substances to pass over the border, although statistics suggest they do not.

Even with additional border security personnel, it is unlikely that Mexico could detain the thousands of migrants who appear likely to cross into the country in the coming days.

President Trump, who has threatened to cut aid to Honduras over the issue, thanked Mexico for holding back the group.

Many in the retreating caravan slept overnight on the bridge linking two countries, the network said, adding that police and immigration agents let small groups of 10, 20, or 30 people through if they wanted to apply for refugee status.

Mexican authorities have also said they're asking for help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to process migrants seeking refugee status at the country's southern border.

UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley said the agency is reinforcing capacity in southern Mexico to offer counseling, legal assistance and humanitarian aid to asylum-seekers.

Honduran migrants heading in a caravan to the United States, try to cross to Mexico in the border city of Tecun Uman.

"Whoever wants to work in our country is going to have support, is going to have a work visa", he said.

The caravan formed Saturday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and arrived in Guatemala on Monday. "Now we're being pushed back", Weir said.

He also threatened to send in the USA military to "CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!" and keep out "MANY CRIMINALS" among the migrants.

"If that doesn't work out, we're calling up the military, not the guard, we're calling up the military and we're going to have the military stationed", Trump said.

The re-emergence of immigration as a pressing concern in the USA comes in the middle of heated midterm elections, and Mr. Trump has featured the issue in political rallies held around the country on behalf of Republican congressional candidates.

Mr. Pompeo said he and Mr. Videgaray spoke of the importance of stopping the caravan before it reaches the USA border. Gates at the border crossing were broken as they streamed toward a bridge into Mexico.

Free buses started arriving late on Friday night, just hours after Mexican riot police had hurled teargas bombs into the frustrated crowd after some migrants broke through a riot-shield cordon to enter Mexican territory.

At one point, several dozen migrants trying to make their way north sang the Honduran national anthem on the edge of the muddy Suchiate River between Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and Tapachula, Mexico.

The migrant caravan is now in Guatemala, in the border town Tecún Umán, though some in the group have already crossed into Mexico.

While Mexican men travelling without relatives once made up the bulk of the migrants, Guatemalans and other Central Americans travelling in families or as unaccompanied minors are now the norm.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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