Central American migrants hoping to reach the U.S. are finding a much tougher trek than those in previous caravans, meeting unwelcoming townsfolk and a surprise raid by Mexican police and immigration agents who detained hundreds in Mexico’s south.
While their compatriots were been taken into custody Monday, hundreds of other migrants scrambled away into the brush along the highway in Chiapas state to elude authorities.
Many had already learned they would not be received in towns with the same hospitality that greeted previous caravans, and now they know they won’t be safe walking along the rural highway either. Mexican authorities say they detained 367 people in the largest single raid on a migrant caravan since the groups started moving through the country last year.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute issued a statement saying agents were carrying out an immigration check on a group of migrants who “began an aggression” against the agents, who then called in federal police.
It said 367 people, including a “significant number” of children and women, were “rescued” and taken to an immigration station.
Journalists saw police target isolated groups at the tail end of a caravan of about 3,000 migrants who were making their way through Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state.
As migrants gathered under spots of shade in the burning heat outside the city of Pijijiapan, federal police and agents arrived in patrol trucks and vans and forcibly wrestled women, men and children into the vehicles.
The migrants were driven to buses, presumably for subsequent transportation to an immigration station for deportation processing.
Some women and children wailed and screamed during the detentions on the roadside. Clothes, shoes, suitcases and strollers littered the scene after they were taken away.
Agents had encouraged groups of migrants that separated from the bulk of the caravan to rest after some seven hours of trudging along the road, including about half of that under a broiling sun. When the migrants regrouped to continue, they were detained.
Agents positioned themselves at the head of the group and at the back. Some people in civilian clothing appeared to be participating in the detentions.
After seeing others being detained, some migrants began walking in dense groups and picked up stones and sticks.
Officials from Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission observed the action from a distance.
Mexico welcomed the first migrant caravans last year, but the reception has gotten colder since tens of thousands of migrants overwhelmed U.S. border crossings, causing delays at the border and angering Mexican residents.
The U.S. also has ramped up pressure on Mexico to do more to stem the flow of migrants. President Donald Trump railed against the government of his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and threatened to shut the entire border down, but then quickly congratulated Mexico for migrant arrests just a few weeks ago.
TYT Newsroom with information from:
- USA TODAY