IMANE Ayissi (left) and Rahul Mishra
IMANE Ayissi (left) and Rahul Mishra

CIUDAD HIDALGO: Hundreds of Central American migrants surged into Mexico on Thursday, wading unopposed across a river on the Guatemalan border where Mexican troops had used tear gas earlier in the week to keep them back, journalists at the scene reported.

Once on the other side of the Suchiate river, the migrants quickly formed a column and began a trek on foot to Ciudad Hidalgo, in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Thousands of Central Americans have crossed Mexico towards the United States in caravans in recent years, fleeing chronic poverty and brutal gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

On Monday, Mexican National Guard troops fired tear gas to force back migrants attempting to cross, leading to scenes of chaos as huge crowds of people flailed across the Suchiate River.

About 500 were able to enter the country illegally, though more than 400 of them were later arrested at a roadblock.

The interior ministry said it deported 460 Hondurans via official planes and buses from the country’s two southern states.

An AFP correspondent saw large groups of them being rounded up along a highway and loaded onto buses and trucks — some after trying and failing to run away.

Mexico’s migration authority said the country was ready to welcome foreigners as long as they entered the country in a “lawful, safe and orderly” way.

Immigration authorities reinforced security at the border, which seemed to be enough to deter migrants from trying to cross. They eventually retreated to the nearby Guatemalan town of Tecun Uman.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020