Thousands of Central American migrants stormed the northern Guatemalan border on Friday, successfully forcing their way into Mexican territory as part of a larger effort to reach the United States.
A caravan of migrants, whose numbers have been estimated to range between 3,000 to 4,000 strong, began converging on the Guatemala-Mexico border early Thursday evening. Some of the migrants, who are recognized to be fleeing violence, political instability, and the poor economic conditions of their native homelands in Central and South America, hope to stay and work in Mexico. The majority, however, seek to use the country's northern border to infiltrate the U.S. illegally, according to the Associated Press.
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The men and the women of the caravan turned violent and began to riot upon being denied passage into Mexico. The migrants, most of whom began their journey last week in Honduras, had traveled hundreds of miles on foot or by bus and were unwilling to take no for an answer. They quickly moved to overwhelm the law enforcement and military officers on both sides of the border by hurling rocks and other readily available objects.
One of the migrants, a Honduran man who was first to overcome the police barriers and cross into Mexico, was heard shouting euphorically that no one could stop the caravan's momentum.
"We are going to the United States!" he said. "Nobody is going to stop us!"
The crowd was also heard chanting "Yes we can!" and "We're going to get in!" as they stormed the border.
It is unclear how many individuals or law enforcement officers have been wounded or hurt by the migrant's rioting.
On Thursday, the government of Mexico dispatched two Boeing 727s filled with police and military personnel to the country's southern border with Guatemala in preparation of preserving law and order upon the caravan's arrival. In announcing its decision, the Mexican government appeared to tout a strong line by asserting that any migrant with "proper immigration papers" would be deported back to their country of origin. Mexico's foreign ministry did stipulate, nonetheless, that individuals without proper documents or those seeking asylum would be granted entry into the country.
Mexico's federal government has faced increasing pressure from the Trump administration to crack down on illegal immigration.
Since the mid-1970s, migrants from Central and Southern America have exploited Mexico's relatively lax policies on border security to enter the U.S. illegally. The situation, however, has changed in recent months as the Trump administration takes a strong hand in pressuring Mexico to crack down on illegal border crossings.
To that effect, high ranking administration officials, along with the president himself, have threatened to cut foreign aid to Mexico and other countries complicit in allowing illegal immigrants to pass through their borders en route to the U.S. The president took to social media on Tuesday to reiterate that threat when the caravan first appeared poised to leave Honduran territory and enter Guatemala.
"The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!" Trump wrote.