Mexican security forces fired tear gas at rock-hurling Central American migrants who waded across a river into Mexico earlier on Monday, in a chaotic scramble that saw mothers separated from their young children, Reuters reported.
The clashes between hundreds of U.S.-bound Central Americans and the Mexican National Guard underscores the challenge President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador faces to contain migration at the bidding of his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.
The mostly Honduran migrants numbered around 500, according to Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM). They were part of a group of several thousand people that had set off last week from Honduras, fleeing rampant gang violence and dire job prospects in their homeland.
Video footage showed scattered groups of migrants throwing rocks at a few members of the National Guard militarized police who were on the banks of the river attempting to thwart illegal crossings, while hundreds of others ran past into Mexico.
Five National Guard police were injured in the clashes, the INM said.
“We didn’t come to stay here. We just want to cross to the other side,” said Ingrid, 18, a Honduran migrant. “I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.”
A Reuters witness spoke to at least two mothers whose young children went missing amid the chaos, as the migrants on Mexican soil scattered in an attempt to avoid being detained by Mexican officials, Reuters added.
The INM said it had detained 402 migrants and transferred them to immigration stations where they will receive food, water, and shelter. The INM will return them to their home countries via airplane or bus if their legal status cannot be resolved.
A spokeswoman at the INM said the institute had no reports of children going missing amid the clashes. The Reuters witness said that several kilometers from the border, Mexican immigration authorities had filled a bus and pickup trucks with detained migrants.