4,000 Honduran Migrants Try to Illegally Cross U.S Border, Gets Tear Gassed by Mexican Authorities
On the morning of January 21st, 4,000 migrants came together on a bridge spanning the Suchiate River, in an attempt to reach U.S-Mexico Border. However, just as President Trump had promised, they were met by Mexican authorities armed with tear gas to deny them entry.
As the afternoon came, and the tension increased, hundreds made the decision to cross the barrier by wading knee-deep in the Suchiate River. By then, Mexican National Troop Guards were already on high alert and used tear gas to contain the migrants.
In the midst of chaos, many had successfully evaded the troops and found their way to Mexico. Meanwhile, the guards stood by as migrants attacked them with rocks.
migrants attack National Guard and cross Suchiate River https://t.co/6bftDMt5QW— En24 News (@En24_News) January 20, 2020
#ULTIMAHORA Vencido el plazo de 3 horas, la caravana de migrantes hondureños ha decidido tomar el plan B, cruzar el río Suchiate, ante la negativa de las autoridades mexicanas de permitir el paso libre por el territorio, según live de Radio Progreso. pic.twitter.com/aeATM1PG0p— Santiago Botón 🇬🇹 (@SantiagoteleSUR) January 20, 2020
The question is; why did people flock into the Suchiate River?
Well, the river played an important role in the border crossing as it separates Guatemala and Mexico. The first Honduran caravan attempt to cross the river happened in 2018. During the crossing, things had gotten out of hand as Mexican officials tried to protect other civilians from the violent attacks from illegal migrants.
Fast forward to 2020, and things have changed as Mexican officials vowed that this time, they will not allow migrants to step foot on Mexican soil.
The U.S. and Central American Bilateral Agreement In an effort to decrease the number of migrants who illegally cross the border, President Trump decided to let the U.S. enter a bilateral agreement between Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The administration’s goal was to stop any opportunity for people seeking asylum in the U.S.
Moreover, the participating countries will also get help and support to resolve their ongoing crisis.
Based on the agreement, migrants who have reached the U.S-Mexico border were given two choices. One is to be sent back to either Guatemala or their home country.
The second option is to enter the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)—also known as the “Remain-in-Mexico” program. The program entailed migrants to wait out their cases in Mexico, rather than inside American borders.
This ended the “catch-and-release” practice were migrants are released in the U.S., while they await their hearing. With these changes in U.S. protocols, Homeland Security officials are expected to return as much as 250 Mexican migrants each week.
The Current Situation
According to reports from Reuters, many migrants were detained in buses and several pick-up trucks miles away from the border.
Others chose to stay at the edge of the river or returned home to Guatemala, according to The Associated Press.
In a statement to the Washington Post, leaders of the caravan wrote to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, “All the members of the caravan receive the permission to move freely through Mexican territory. We are committed to you and your government to maintain order and discipline in the places where we transit,” the statement reads.
As a response, Mexico’s migration agency stood by their staunch decision to deny them entry. The agency responded that they are “committed to maintaining a safe, orderly and regular migration. The legal provisions do not allow for transitory migration.” Despite the heavy blockage, most of the migrants remained undeterred and still plans to continue the crossing.
For now, the number of migrants who had illegally crossed the border remains unknown.