The latest caravan of Honduran migrants has been turned back once again after crossing the river at another spot and walking several hours north. Today’s crossing of the Mexican border began before it was light:
Thursday’s movement was a resurgence of a migrant caravan that had been diminishing since its last concerted attempt to cross the border Monday was turned back by Mexican National Guardsmen posted along Suchiate river, which forms the border here.
The migrants awoke with a plan Thursday. By 4:30 a.m. they had all packed their belongings and were just awaiting the call to move. They would not cross where Mexican authorities were posted across the river.
They prayed for about an hour before leaving and then walked upriver on the Guatemala side in the dark to near another bridge that handles commercial traffic between the two countries. There were no Mexican authorities on the opposite bank.
The migrants crossed the river and were allowed to walk six miles north at which point they were confronted by the Mexican National Guard. The guardsmen paused and met with a spokeman for the caravan. They recommended that the migrants turn themselves in and either apply for legal status to remain in Mexico or accept a bus or plane ride home. But the migrants want free passage through Mexico so they can enter the United States. At that point the guardsmen continued their advance. As you can see in this clip, the migrants did not back away but actually pushed forward and tried to break through the line. This was a shoving match in the road.
Decenas de agentes de la Guardia Nacional cercan a migrantes que se encontraban en un punto de la carretera entre Ciudad Hidalgo y Tapachula, en Chiapas.
— AnimalPolitico.com (@Pajaropolitico) January 23, 2020
After this the migrants were rounded up and put on buses:
Many of the people allowed themselves to be escorted to the buses without resistance. Women cradling small children or holding kids’ hands wept as they walked toward the buses.
Others resisted and were subdued by guardsmen. One man dragged by four guardsmen shouted “they killed my brother, I don’t want to die,” presumably in reference to the possibility of being returned to his country.
Again, Mexico has offered a chance to remain in the country for many of these migrants but they don’t want asylum or work there, they want it here.
In the past this type of crackdown on migrants passing through the country on their way to the US would be cause for a backlash in Mexico, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this time. The AP reports that the latest caravan is getting plenty of media attention but most people have other things to worry about:
The hundreds of Central American migrants walking north in southern Mexico have received steady media coverage in Mexico, but with sky high murders, a stagnant economy and corruption topping the national agenda, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s aggressive efforts to stop them hasn’t stirred a widespread reaction…
Coming from a country with a long history of emigration, Mexicans generally have a great deal of empathy for the Central American migrants passing through the country. During the first caravans in 2018, townspeople turned out along the caravan’s path to provide food and water. But as more caravans came the attitude began to change, especially in places that had few resources to begin with.
For many Mexicans, migration had been a quiet reality. Small groups of people were always passing on their way north. People who lived along the train tracks the migrants walked on talk about providing a plate of food or assistance in an emergency.
But the caravans are different. Thousands of people suddenly descend on a sleepy town and set up camp in the town square.
Even with all of the push back on caravans in Mexico the US is still seeing something like 1,000 illegal border crossings per day. We saw last summer the kind of chaos that occurs when that number exceeds 3,000 per day. Our system is simply not set up to handle that many people.