Mexico detained more than 2,000 after caravan border crossing
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Mexico City (AFP)
Mexican migration authorities released Wednesday an official count of the number of people detained along the country's southern border two days before, estimating that more than 2,000 people were "rescued" after they crossed the border with Guatemala.
National Institute of Migration (INM) officials explained that among the detained were not only members of the so-called "2020 Caravan" that left Honduras about a week ago, but also many who had entered the country through other spots.
About 1,300 people were detained in Tabasco and another 800 in Chiapas, the INM said, including some minors.
On Wednesday, Mexico deported 460 Hondurans via official planes and buses from the two southern states, the ministry of the interior said.
Several hundred caravan members had tried to cross the Suchiate River at dawn on Monday from Tecun Uman in Guatemala, demanding migration authorities let them continue their journey to the United States.
When authorities did not immediately respond, the migrants began wading across the river, which is shallow this time of year.
Mexican National Guard troops fired tear gas to force them back, leading to scenes of chaos as huge crowds of people flailed across the river.
About 500 were able to enter the country illegally, though more than 400 of them were later arrested.
Thousands of Central Americans have crossed Mexico toward the United States in caravans, fleeing chronic poverty and brutal gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Others have opted to return to Guatemala, discouraged by the National Guard.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist who came to office vowing to protect migrants' rights, offered last week to give 4,000 jobs to migrants in the new caravan if they stay in southern Mexico.
Mexico faces pressure to keep migrants from crossing its northern border from US President Donald Trump, who last year threatened to impose steep tariffs if the country did not do more to stop a surge of undocumented Central Americans arriving at the US-Mexican border. Lopez Obrador deployed some 26,000 troops to the country's borders in response.
© 2020 AFP