“... dozens of National Guard police.”
I’m on the Guatemala-Mexico border.
This bridge is the main crossing
for migrant caravans on their way to the United States.
But this group, which left Honduras in mid-January,
is about to hit a barrier.
And they’re still over 1,000 miles from the U.S. border.
“Mexico shouldn’t allow millions of people
to try and enter our country.”
Last year, President Trump threatened Mexico
with import tariffs, if the country didn’t seal
its border with Guatemala.
So Mexico deployed a newly formed security force
to block migrants from entering.
Now this wave of some 4,000 migrants
is putting enforcement here to the test.
I wanted to see how Mexico would handle the challenge.
What I find is a country taking a much harder line
on its southern border, in response to U.S. pressure.
I witness three attempts by migrants
to cross into Mexico,
each time, met with increasing force.
This attempt ends with Mexican authorities
letting small groups through to register with Migration.
It’s a legal obligation,
and also a way of breaking up the caravan.
Once in Mexico, the first thing migrants hear
is a warning from the U.S. repeated over a loudspeaker.
And then, an offer to send them home.
By the end of the day, close to 2,000 migrants
have registered to stay in Mexico,
many with the goal of someday still reaching the U.S.
What they don’t know is that Mexico will end up returning
most of them to Honduras.
It’s a new day,
and more migrants are on the border,
undeterred and ready to cross into Mexico.
This time, a few petition Mexican authorities on behalf
of the group, appealing for compassion to let them
continue the caravan.
But Mexico doesn’t budge.
So the group turns to Plan B.
Border security are waiting for them
on the other side of the Suchiate River.
The standoff ends with the migrants
staying put in Guatemala, and waiting for an opportunity
to try to cross again.
A few days later, with border security nowhere in sight,
hundreds of migrants manage to get through,
by crossing the river at a different spot,
only to be met by dozens of troops
who were waiting for them several miles down the road.
Some 800 people are rounded up and forced onto buses,
soon to be deported.
In the face of pressure from all sides,
Mexico stopped this group from reaching the U.S. border,
giving the Trump administration exactly what it wants.