Central American migrants traveling in a caravan broke through a Guatemalan border fence Friday, running into a wall of police in Mexico, whose government has promised the United States it will confront the caravan.
Mexican television footage showed hundreds of migrants breaking through Guatemalan border posts and streaming onto a bridge connecting Mexico and Guatemala. The migrants were met on the other side by a line of Mexican police in riot gear.
Witnesses say some of the migrants threw rocks and other objects at Mexican security forces, who used pepper spray to force the migrants to retreat.
The migrant caravan has angered U.S. President Donald Trump. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Mexico City on Friday to discuss the issue with his counterpart. Pompeo met with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who vowed to meet the “challenge” of the caravan.
Pompeo told VOA Contributor Greta Van Susteren on Friday that Mexican officials want to create a situation where migrants “understand that it is not fruitful to transit though Mexico into the United States.”
WATCH: Pompeo on Migrants Heading to US-Mexico Border
He said the caravan is “not organic” and is being underwritten by political opponents of the Honduran leadership. “This is not just a group of people who happen to wander together into a big group,” he said.
The caravan of nearly 3,000 people left San Pedro Sula in Honduras late last week, making its way through Guatemala’s muddy jungle and residential streets to reach Mexico and, eventually, the United States.
On Thursday, Trump threatened to send the military to close the southern U.S. border unless Mexico stops what he calls an “onslaught” of Central American migrants. Trump claims there are criminals among the migrants and is urging Mexico “in the strongest terms” to stop them.
“He’s making a political calculation,” said Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, about Trump’s posting on Twitter, in a reference to U.S. midterm elections in November. Ebrard said in a local radio interview that Trump’s comments were “predictable.”
While Trump has threatened to deploy the military to the Mexico-U.S. border, Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said Thursday in a statement that the “Department of Defense has not been tasked to provide additional support.”
Mexican officials say they will not let the migrants enter as one large group. Individuals must show a passport or visa to cross the border, or apply for refugee status.
Mexico’s government has sought assistance from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help process migrants claiming refugee status, which could help it to disperse the caravan.
Mexico’s Videgaray said in an interview with the Televisa network that those who want to apply for refuge in Mexico are welcome to do so “if they have a vulnerable situation in their country of origin.”
The Mexican government has said any migrant who decides to cross illegally will be detained and deported.
Honduras is one of the most violent nations in the world, partly because of gangs and drugs.
Many of those trying to get to the United States want to escape violence and poverty.