Hundreds of Central Americans crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico early on Thursday, testing the Mexican government’s resolve to stem the movement of people north under pressure from the United States.
Television footage showed a caravan of migrants moving towards the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, after crossing the Suchiate River that divides Mexico and Guatemala.
In the small town of Frontera Hidalgo, nestled on the banks of the Suchiate River, hundreds of migrants stopped for a mid-morning rest before continuing their journey.
Mexican security forces observed the migrants on their trek but did not intervene, according to a Reuters witness.
Some of the migrants had been given forms to seek asylum with Mexico’s tiny asylum agency, COMAR.
Most members of the caravan want to reach the United States. However, U.S. President Donald Trump has pressured Mexico to adopt more restrictive measures to reduce the migrant flows.
Many of the Central Americans migrants heading north are fleeing economic hardship and violence at home.
The current group is the largest surge of people to test Mexico since its president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and some Central American governments, made various agreements with Trump to reduce pressure on the U.S. southern border.
Trump has threatened to punish Mexico and Central American nations economically if they fail to address the migrant flows.
Migrants crossing into Mexico earlier this week faced tear gas from security forces, who delivered a firmer response than in previous mass crossings of the border.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said several hundred of the new arrivals were immediately deported.
(Reporting by Andres Martinez; Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Bernadette Baum)