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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 31 March, 2020

350 migrants 'break violently' into Mexico as new caravan arrives

The caravan first set off on Wednesday from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula.

File photo - Thousands of Central American migrants making their way to the US border last October
File photo - Thousands of Central American migrants making their way to the US border last October
Image: Miguel Juarez Lugo

A GROUP OF 350 Central American migrants have forced their way into Mexico, as a new caravan of around 2,500 people arrived. 

Some members of the caravan had a “hostile attitude” and had attacked local police in the town of Metapa de Dominguez after crossing the border from Guatemala, Mexico’s National Migration Institute (NMI) said. 

“Today at 3.30 am (8.30am Irish time) a group of approximately 350 people broke violently across the Mexican border from Guatemala,” NMI said in a statement.

With an aggressive attitude, [the migrants] broke the padlock on the border gate and entered the country.

The migrants were later escorted by Mexican federal police and the civil protection service, according to an AFP correspondent. 

The caravan first set off on Wednesday from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. It picked up Guatemalans and some Nicaraguans along the way. 

Some of the migrants cross the bridge over the Suchiate River, which divides Mexico from Guatemala. 

Others jumped into the river and forded across, or paid raft operators to ferry them over. 

The migrants then headed onto a local highway and began the long trek across Mexico. Some travelled up to 4,000 kilometres, depending on what route they took. 

 Echoes of October caravan

This is the latest in a series of caravans trying to reach the US-Mexican border. 

Trump, who says there is a crisis on the border, has declared a national emergency over the flow of undocumented migrants and illegal drugs into the US, deployed troops to the border and repeatedly threatened to close it.

The biggest migrant caravan to date also forced its way into Mexico last October, when migrants broke down a series of border barriers.

That caravan, which grew to more than 7,000 people, also tried to force its way into the US, in a New Year’s eve rush. However, US border patrol agents forced them back with tear gas and bullets. 

‘Sanctuary cities’

Meanwhile, Trump today said is he seriously considering funnelling detained illegal migrants into the self-declared sanctuary cities that oppose his tough immigration policies. 

Sanctuary cities are places where local authorities – usually Democratic run – have refused to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.

His announcement on Twitter reversed a previous White House assurance that the idea – criticized as political retribution against cities led by opposition Democrats – had been dropped.

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities,” Trump said.

“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!” he tweeted.

The Washington Post had earlier revealed the proposal.

Citing homeland security officials and leaked emails, the Post said White House officials first broached the plan in November, asking several agencies whether members of a caravan of migrants could be arrested at the border and then bused “to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities”.

The White House told the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) that the plan was intended to alleviate a shortage of detention space, but would also send a message to Democrats, the Post said. 

The suggested policy was pushed back within ICE, with a top official saying it was rife with concerns and noting “there are PR risks as well”.

After the White House pressed the issue again earlier this year, ICE rebuffed it as “inappropriate.”

The Post said a White House official and a spokesman for the department of homeland security said the proposal was no longer under consideration.

The number of immigrant detainees in ICE custody has approached 50,000 in recent months, the Post said.

Includes reporting by - © AFP 2019 

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