Mexico to deport migrants who stormed border
Mexico will deport Central American migrants who attempted to storm the US border, its interior ministry said. The group, part of the migrant caravan heading towards the US from Central America, was rounded up after trying to cross the border “violently” and “illegally” on Sunday.
Video footage shows dozens of people running towards the border fence near the city of Tijuana. US border officers used tear gas to repel them.
Tension has been running high on the US-Mexican border since the arrival of almost 7,500 migrants over the past weeks.
The migrants, who are mostly from Honduras, but also from Guatemala and El Salvador, say they are fleeing the threat of violence in their home countries and looking to make a better life for themselves and their families.
They have travelled in large groups, dubbed “caravans”, for more than 4,000km (2,500 miles) from Central America and most want to reach the United States, where they say they plan to ask for asylum. Among them are many families with young children.
But with US President Donald Trump vowing to keep each migrant on the Mexican side of the border until courts have decided their case, they are facing a long wait.
They have been spending the past two weeks in temporary shelters in the Mexican border city of Tijuana and in Mexicali, 180km to the east along the border.
A group of at least 500 migrants joined a march from their shelter in Tijuana towards the border on Sunday. Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete said the migrants had asked for help to organise the demonstration but were then reportedly encouraged by some of the movement’s leaders to split into different groups so they could make a run for the border and try to cross into the US.
The march started peacefully with migrants carrying pro-immigration banners and shouting: “We aren’t criminals! We are hard workers!”.
But once they managed to get past the security cordon, the march quickly turned into a dash for the border, BBC correspondent Will Grant reports.
Several hundred managed to climb over the first barrier, according to the Agence France-Press news agency. It was as they tried to cross a second, spike-topped wall that officials on the US side began firing tear gas.
An AFP journalist saw the migrants including mothers and children trying to protect themselves from the gas, with some crying out that they only wanted to find work and a better life in the US.
Associated Press Mexico correspondent Chris Sherman said he had seen parents running away with choking toddlers. Among them was Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga, 23, and her three-year-old child: “We ran but when you run, the smoke smothers you more.”
With the Mexican authorities saying that those who crossed illegally into the US on Sunday face “immediate” deportation, the mood in the migrant shelter is likely to darken, says the BBC’s Will Grant.
Many in the migrant caravan are likely to be unsettled by this turn of events, our correspondent says.
And with many in the shelters realising how long the wait for asylum could be, some, like Honduran Joseph García, are growing increasingly desperate: “My little girl is sick and I don’t even have money for milk. I can’t stand it anymore.”