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Illegal migrants break down Mexican border fence despite Trump’s threats to retaliate

On Friday, hoards of Central Americans in a US-bound migrant caravan attempted to push their way through the Mexican border, pulling down border fences and crashing through the Mexican immigration post. These actions were in direct defiance of U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent threats of retaliation if Mexican authorities did not control the flow of migrants.

The hordes of illegal migrants were waving Honduran flags as they crossed the  Suchiate river that separates Mexico and Guatemala.  

“One way or another, we will pass,” they chanted, jumping onto military jeeps as the Guatemalan police just stood idly by.

One migrant in the crowd, Edwin Santos of San Pedro Sula, was one of the first to force his way past Guatemalan police. “We are going to the United States,” he shouted, “Nobody is going to stop us”

Another migrant named Jonathan Guzman, says he hopes to reach Los Angeles for an occupation in construction.  According to the 22-year-old Salvadoran, it’s the third time he has attempted to illegally cross border lines. Many of the migrants have similar aspirations as Guzman.

Earlier that day, Luis Manuel Lopez Moreno, Mexico’s ambassador to Guatemala stated that Mexico will enforce an orderly entry policy to halt the thousands of migrants crossing the border.

Moreno claimed that more than 100 migrants had ben permitted to cross the bridge to apply for refugee status, some from the caravan and some others.

The 3000-person caravan started arriving in the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman on Thursday morning, and more joined them later in the day.  

As Friday came along, a Mexican military helicopter began to fly over the border, a sign of things to come for the migrants. At the same time, a massive group of Mexican federal police officers were deployed at the border crossing in Ciudad Hidalgo.

Arriving on the Mexican end of the border bridge, they were met by Mexican border control officers with riot shields. 50 migrants were able to kick down the gate and push their way through before officers unleashed pepper spray to force the other encroaching migrants to retreat.


As the gates were closed again, the federal police officer addressed the masses with a loudspeaker, saying, “We need you to stop the aggression.”

Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary stated that those with valid visas and passports would be immediately allowed in the country, but confirmed that these are the minority. Those who wish to seek asylum in Mexico can do so only “if they have a vulnerable situation in their country of origin”, Videgaray said in a recent interview. He was also firm that all illegal trespassers will be caught, detained, and deported by Mexican authorities.

U.S. President Trump has made it clear that he will be closely monitoring Mexico’s response. Earlier on Thursday, he threatened to close the border if Mexico allowed migrants to advance.

 

Soon after, he retweeted a video of Mexican police stationed at the Guatemalan border and wrote: “Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!”

 

In a Televisa interview, Videgaray was asked if he was doing President Trump’s ‘dirty work’. Videgaray dismissed such claims, stating that Mexico “defines its migration policy in a sovereign manner” and ensures that the safety of migrants is a priority.

Videgaray is also sceptical of President Trump’s threats to close the US border, and claims they must be viewed in the context of the upcoming U.S midterm elections. According to recent statistics, almost a million people cross the US-Mexican border legally every day.

However, he is keen to emphasize the severity of the migrant issue to Mexican security. Between January and August, Mexican authorities deported over 69,929 migrants, almost 40% more than they did in 2017.