The Honduran migrant caravan moving toward the United States surged across a bridge leading to Mexico on Friday and entered a chaotic confrontation with Mexican police.
The efforts of the migrants, who were cheering and chanting while attempting to push through or even climb over a steel gate, were eventually halted by tear gas and smoke canisters thrown by police in an attempt to stop them from crossing.
Many of them collapsed on the bridge as a result, while a number of both police and migrants were injured. However, this seemed not to deter the group, who remained on the bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico, CNN informs.
Some of the migrants, in particular women and children, were allowed to pass through gates so that they board buses heading to refugee camps, but it remains unclear how many of them would cross the border and how long that process would take. Mexican authorities previously said they would only let migrants with valid visas, or those who meet certain criteria, enter the country.
The caravan formed last Saturday in Honduras and on Monday it arrived in Guatemala, from where it was headed toward the U.S. southern border. Migrants told CNN they were seeking refuge from violence and were in search of a better life in the U.S.
Leaders from the region advised them to turn back and President Donald Trump even threatened to cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico if they allowed the caravan to get to the border. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Mexico City to meet with leaders about the caravan, said it was an organized effort which used women and children “as shields” to make its way through.
“This is an organized effort to come through and violate the sovereignty of Mexico,” Pompeo said. “We’re prepared to do all that we can to support the decisions that Mexico makes about how they’re going to address this very serious and important issue to their country.”