Thousands in a migrant caravan wait to cross the Guatemalan-Mexican border amid sweltering heat

Thousands of Central American migrants fleeing poverty and violence packed a bridge connecting Guatemala and...

Posted: Oct 22, 2018 4:47 AM
Updated: Oct 22, 2018 4:47 AM

Thousands of Central American migrants fleeing poverty and violence packed a bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico in sweltering heat Saturday as part of a politically charged, US-bound caravan.

At least one migrant, from Honduras, was killed after falling from a vehicle, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez told reporters after meeting with his Guatemalan counterpart.

Central America

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Guatemala

Honduras

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations

International relations and national security

Juan Orlando Hernandez

Latin America

Mexico

Mike Pompeo

North America

Political Figures - Intl

Political Figures - US

Territorial and national borders

The Americas

United States

Heat waves

Severe weather

Weather

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Law enforcement

Policing and police forces

"What we have seen in recent days is without precedent," he said.

At one point Saturday, several dozen migrants on the desperate trek north sang the Honduran national anthem on the edge of the muddy Suchiate River between Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

Others, including a middle-aged woman and her three children, lowered themselves from the bridge on a ladder and climbed onto a makeshift raft that delivered them to Mexico as federal police officers watched nearby.

Exhausted migrants waded across the Suchiate, holding their belongings above the chest-high waters. Rafts ferried others to Mexico.

A group of men helping the migrants across the river chanted "Si se puede" in Spanish, or "Yes you can." Occasionally, young men jumped from the bridge into the river as onlookers cheered.

Once in Mexico, the migrants rested at a nearby warehouse that turned into a shelter, where they received food, water and medical care.

Their journey continued one day after defiant caravan members rushed past border gates only to be stopped by rows of Mexican riot police who dispersed tear gas and smoke canisters into the crowds.

The slow procession north has led President Donald Trump to threaten to cut aid to Central American nations and to send troops to the US border if Mexico fails to stop the surge.

After US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top officials met in the Mexican capital the night before, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saturday that Mexico was "fully engaged in finding a solution that encourages safe, secure and orderly migration."

At a rally in Elko, Nevada, Trump attacked Democrats, suggesting they want more caravans. He called the migrant situation "sad from both sides."

On the border between Mexico and Guatemala, members of the caravan seemed undeterred by rhetoric from Washington.

"Our message is we're not criminals," Honduran migrant Orlean Herrera said. "We're coming over here because we need a better life. That's why we're here."

Another man shouted, "Donald Trump is the anti-Christ."

By Saturday morning, the bridge was teeming with men, women, teenagers and children. Some fainted from the heat.

Mexican authorities starting Friday were allowing a trickle of migrants, starting with women and children, to pass through gates near the bridge to Tapachula, where they boarded buses for refugee camps.

Others, chanting and cheering, pushed through or climbed over a steel gate Friday until riot police repelled them with tear gas and smoke canisters. Video showed coughing and weeping migrants collapsed on the bridge. Several police and an undetermined number of migrants were injured.

It was unclear how many migrants would cross the border and how long that process would take. Mexican authorities have said they'd allow migrants to enter the country if they have valid visas or meet other requirements.

The caravan formed last Saturday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and arrived Monday in Guatemala. Migrants told CNN en Español they were bound for the United States, seeking work and fleeing political corruption and violence.

Leaders throughout the region have publicly urged them for days to turn back.

Hernandez, the Honduran President, said more than 550 Honduran nationals were being bused back to Honduras, and would be offered jobs and other aid upon their arrival.

Pompeo: 'This is an organized effort'

Four Mexican police officers were injured in the standoff at the Mexican border, Pompeo said Friday.

Speaking to reporters on a tarmac in Mexico City, where he'd been meeting with leaders about the caravan and other matters, Pompeo accused the caravan of using women and children "as shields as they make their way through."

"This is an organized effort to come through and violate the sovereignty of Mexico," Pompeo said.

Pompeo said he had a "good conversation" with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and that the two countries are jointly focused on the caravan issue, but "the Mexican government is making all the decisions on how to address this."

Peña Nieto called the confrontation a "unique incident," saying the migrants did not follow the protocols that Mexican immigration officials put in place. He added that some migrants "assaulted and even injured" a number of unarmed members of the Mexican police before they could contain the violence.

"Mexico won't allow anyone entering its territory in an erratic way and much less a violent way," he said Friday night in a video statement released on Twitter.

Peña Nieto said Mexican officials would continue welcoming those traveling with the migrant caravan despite Friday's incident.

Trump, who's been criticizing the caravan with fiery tweets all week, reiterated his threat Friday that if Mexico doesn't stop the migrants, he'll take more drastic action.

"If that doesn't work out, we're calling up the military, not the Guard, we're calling up the military, and we're going to have the military stationed," Trump said. "They're not coming into this country. They might as well turn back."

Trump has also threatened to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Clash on the bridge

Members of the caravan gathered Friday morning in the border city of Tecun Uman. They waited in sweltering heat -- with temperatures in the mid-80s and 70% humidity -- for hours for others to arrive, packing streets for blocks on end.

They streamed through gates on the Guatemalan side of the border around noon Friday, cheering and chanting as they marched. Celebratory air horns blared as they headed toward Mexico's port of entry.

When they reached a padlocked steel fence near the Mexican side of the bridge, the sheer number of migrants allowed them to break through.

Mexican police pushed them back. Hundreds of Mexican Federal Police sealed the border as drones and helicopters hovered above the crowd.

At least a dozen migrants jumped into the river.

Some of the migrants on the bridge said they joined the caravan because they were desperate for work and had no other choice.

Mexican officials have said people seeking asylum will be processed at Mexico's southern border. But it's unclear what will happen next.

Click here to get the latest updates from the Mexico-Guatemala border

Will they reach the US border?

Mexican authorities haven't said whether anyone from the caravan will be permitted to travel to the US border.

They've previously outlined how they planned to respond to the group, stating:

• Anyone with a valid visa will be able to enter and move freely.

• Anyone who wants to be recognized as a refugee or as a beneficiary of "complementary protection measures" must do so individually. Those who do so will be held "at a migratory station" for as many as 45 business days.

• Anyone who enters "in an irregular manner" will be "rescued and subject to an administrative procedure and, where appropriate, will be returned to their country of origin in a safe and orderly manner."

Mexican authorities also have said they're asking for help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to process migrants seeking refugee status.

This spring, when another caravan of Central American migrants crossed into Mexico, such policies allowed that group to make it to the US border.

The latest caravan comes weeks before high-stakes midterm elections in the United States, in which many Republican candidates have been echoing the President's messaging about boosting border security and cracking down on illegal immigration.

Trump has pointed to the caravan as a key issue in the upcoming elections, describing the group's approach as an assault on the US border. Immigrant rights advocates have accused his administration of trying to create a crisis to motivate his voter base.

Honduran and Guatemalan leaders talk

Hernandez met Saturday in Guatemala with his counterpart, Jimmy Morales, to work on "implementing a strategy and logistics for the return of Honduran migrants," Hernandez said on Twitter.

Hernandez also sought permission from Guatemala to send Civil Protection personnel to assist Honduran migrants inside Guatemala on Friday, according to several posts on his official Twitter account.

In addition, Hernandez requested authorization to "hire ground transportation for those wishing to return, even airlifting special cases of women, children, the elderly and sick," he said, thanking the Guatemalan government for "all the attention given to our Honduran brothers."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110759

Reported Deaths: 3503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20645758
Lake10172317
Elkhart6321108
St. Joseph600797
Allen5921200
Hamilton4646109
Vanderburgh327129
Hendricks2638121
Monroe236836
Johnson2250122
Tippecanoe218413
Clark210156
Porter203344
Cass19279
Delaware184261
Vigo175722
Madison156575
LaPorte135637
Floyd130061
Howard127063
Kosciusko118717
Bartholomew114557
Warrick111935
Marshall98024
Boone94446
Dubois94018
Hancock90042
Noble87632
Grant86733
Henry75424
Wayne73714
Jackson7319
Morgan69438
Shelby66329
Daviess63927
LaGrange62911
Dearborn62128
Clinton59112
Harrison55624
Putnam5209
Montgomery50221
Lawrence50028
White47814
Knox4769
Gibson4644
Decatur45339
DeKalb44211
Miami4223
Fayette41713
Greene41535
Jasper3802
Steuben3647
Scott35310
Sullivan32812
Jennings30812
Posey2940
Franklin29325
Clay2925
Orange28224
Ripley2788
Carroll26913
Wabash2608
Washington2571
Starke2487
Wells2472
Whitley2476
Adams2403
Jefferson2403
Fulton2302
Huntington2173
Spencer2154
Tipton21522
Randolph2067
Perry20213
Newton17011
Jay1680
Owen1641
Martin1590
Rush1494
Pike1361
Vermillion1250
Fountain1152
Blackford1142
Pulaski1131
Crawford1020
Brown1013
Parke932
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland680
Warren401
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 143547

Reported Deaths: 4612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin25846603
Cuyahoga17041642
Hamilton12698307
Montgomery7443152
Lucas7091357
Butler558699
Summit5073248
Marion305747
Mahoning2988279
Warren289348
Stark2723168
Pickaway262844
Lorain225386
Delaware211620
Fairfield199950
Columbiana191880
Licking185362
Trumbull1847131
Clark170738
Wood167971
Clermont161120
Lake157249
Medina142038
Allen136567
Miami134149
Greene133827
Portage106466
Mercer104417
Tuscarawas91020
Wayne89866
Erie89644
Ross84922
Richland78119
Madison77612
Darke75939
Belmont70527
Geauga70147
Hancock6559
Ashtabula64148
Athens5882
Lawrence58818
Auglaize5629
Shelby5619
Sandusky55420
Putnam53723
Huron5217
Union4832
Ottawa46430
Scioto4596
Seneca43514
Preble41813
Holmes3707
Muskingum3672
Jefferson3184
Henry29412
Logan2913
Champaign2873
Perry2849
Defiance27910
Clinton27813
Knox27815
Brown2732
Hardin24913
Morrow2472
Washington24623
Fulton2321
Coshocton23011
Jackson2284
Fayette2256
Ashland2224
Highland2203
Crawford2176
Wyandot20112
Williams1973
Gallia17912
Meigs1709
Hocking1599
Guernsey1557
Pike1530
Carroll1497
Adams1204
Van Wert1103
Monroe10618
Paulding1010
Harrison601
Morgan460
Vinton453
Noble260
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 68°
Van Wert
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 68°
Cool, Sunny Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events