Hundreds of US-bound migrants stopped from entering Mexico

The migrants began the day on the bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico, the place they learn aloud a letter asking Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for permission to cross Mexico en path to the USA border.

There were tensions between migrants and the National Guard on January 18 as security officials sprayed tear gas to stop a number of people pushing through the border.

"Mexico's President said he would give us work and an opportunity and look", said Esther Madrid, a Honduran vendor who left her six children in Honduras.

"You have two options: you go back to Guatemala or you come with us", Mexican immigration officials told the migrants who crossed the river. Some of those trying to reach Mexico threw stones at the police. Authorities detained 402 of the migrants and moved them to immigration shelters where they could face removal by air to Honduras. The INM will return them to their home countries via airplane or bus if their legal status can not be resolved.

The bulk of at least 2,000 migrants remained in the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman planning to set off for Mexico en masse early on Monday, believing that they stood a better chance of making progress in a large caravan.

They urged him to let them pass and promised to respect the law.

Guardsmen scrambled, also, attempting to head off classes and detaining individuals where they can.

Hundreds appeared to have breached police lines and entered Mexico.

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"If we cross alone, they'll get us, and all the sacrifices we've made to get here will have been in vain", he added.

"We never thought they would receive us like that", said Melisa Ávila, who travelled from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa with her 12-year-old son and was resigned to the prospect of spending the night outdoors. "They tell us to register, but then they deport us", another migrant said.

The ministry said in a statement on Sunday afternoon that Mexican authorities had received almost 1,100 migrants in the states of Chiapas and Tabasco and set out various options to them in accordance with their migration status. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their native Central American countries.

While the Mexican government claims that migrants are free to enter - and could compete for jobs if they want to stay and work - in practice, it has limited these migrants to the southernmost states while their cases are processed by a slow bureaucracy.

One National Guard soldier standing guard at the bridge and speaking over a bullhorn told the travelers they could not enter without a visa or migration document, and that sneaking in was unsafe.

Another agreement, with Guatemala, designates that country as a "safe third country".

At a less frequently used border crossing called El Ceibo, nestled among national parks near the city of Tenosique in Mexico's Tabasco state, Guatemala's human rights defender's office reported Sunday that around 300 people opted to turn themselves over to Mexican authorities for processing. Over the weekend, authorities officers satisfied about 1,000 individuals they need to enter legally over the border bridge.

  • Sonia Alvarado