Central American migrants clash with Mexican forces

By Roberto Ramirez

SUCHIATE RIVER, Guatemala/Mexico (Reuters) – Mexican security forces fired tear gas at rock-hurling Central American migrants who waded across a river into Mexico earlier on Monday, in a chaotic scramble that saw mothers separated from their young children.

The clashes between hundreds of U.S.-bound Central Americans and the Mexican National Guard underscores the challenge President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador faces to contain migration at the bidding of his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

The mostly Honduran migrants numbered around 500, according to Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM). They were part of a group of several thousand people that had set off last week from Honduras, fleeing rampant gang violence and dire job prospects in their homeland.

Video footage showed scattered groups of migrants throwing rocks at a few members of the National Guard militarized police who were on the banks of the river attempting to thwart illegal crossings, while hundreds of others ran past into Mexico.

Five National Guard police were injured in the clashes, the INM said.

“We didn’t come to stay here. We just want to cross to the other side,” said Ingrid, 18, a Honduran migrant. “I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.”

A Reuters witness spoke to at least two mothers whose young children went missing amid the chaos, as the migrants on Mexican soil scattered in an attempt to avoid being detained by Mexican officials.

The INM said it had detained 402 migrants and transferred them to immigration stations where they will receive food, water and shelter. The INM will return them to their home countries via airplane or bus if their legal status cannot be resolved.

A spokeswoman at the INM said the institute had no reports of children going missing amid the clashes.

The Reuters witness said that several kilometers from the border, Mexican immigration authorities had filled a bus and pickup trucks with detained migrants.

The Honduran Ambassador to Mexico, Alden Rivera, said that Mexican authorities have some 1,300 Hondurans in migration centers and will start deporting them back home by airplane and bus on Tuesday.

Trump has threatened to punish Mexico and Central American countries economically if they fail to curb migrant flows, resulting in a series of agreements aimed at making good on Trump campaign promises to curb immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

WADING ACROSS THE RIVER

Over the weekend, at least 2,000 migrants had been camped in the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman, opposite Ciudad Hidalgo on the Mexican side.

The migrants appeared to grow impatient on the bridge over the Suchiate River that connects the two countries, after some were denied permission to cross by assembled Mexican migration officials.

The INM said it informed the migrants it could not allow them to cross into Mexican territory to “transit” through and blamed the group’s organizers for “ignoring the risk to minors and at-risk people” by crossing the river.

Mexico has offered migrants work in the south, but those who do not accept it or seek asylum will not be issued safe conduct passes to the United States, and most will be deported, the interior ministry said.

Mexican authorities had already received nearly 1,100 migrants in the states of Chiapas and Tabasco, the ministry said on Sunday.

According to Guatemala, at least 4,000 people entered from Honduras since Wednesday, making for one of the biggest surges since three Central American governments signed agreements with the Trump administration obliging them to assume more of the responsibility for dealing with migrants.

(Reporting by Roberto Ramirez; Additional reporting by Dave Graham and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Writing by David Alire Garcia and Anthony Esposito; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Christopher Cushing)

Central American migrants ford river into Mexico, chuck rocks

By Roberto Ramirez

SUCHIATE RIVER, Guatemala/Mexico (Reuters) – Hundreds of Central Americans waded across a river into Mexico on Monday, some clashing with waiting security forces, in a new challenge for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s efforts to contain migration at the bidding of the United States.

Scattered groups launched rocks at a few members of Mexico’s National Guard who were on the banks of the river attempting to thwart any illegal crossings, as hundreds of others ran past into Mexico, video footage of the scene showed.

The mostly Honduran migrants appeared to grow impatient on the bridge over the Suchiate River that connects the two countries, after some were denied permission to cross by assembled Mexican migration officials.

“We didn’t come to stay here, we just want to cross to the other side,” said Ingrid, 18, a Honduran migrant. “I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to punish Mexico and Central American countries economically if they fail to curb migrant flows, resulting in a series of agreements aimed at taking pressure off the United States in absorbing the numbers.

At least 2,000 migrants had been camped in the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman, opposite Ciudad Hidalgo on the Mexican side.

Mexico has offered migrants work in the south, but those who do not accept it or seek asylum will not be issued safe conduct passes to the United States, and most will be deported, the interior ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement on Sunday that Mexican authorities had already received nearly 1,100 migrants in the states of Chiapas and Tabasco and set out various options to them in accordance with their migration status.

“However, in the majority of cases, once the particular migration situation has been reviewed, assisted returns will be carried out to their countries of origin, assuming that their situation warrants it,” the ministry said.

According to Guatemala, at least 4,000 people entered from Honduras since Wednesday, making for one of the biggest surges since three Central American governments signed agreements with the Trump administration obliging them to assume more of the responsibility for dealing with migrants.

In late 2018, a large caravan of migrants sought to break through the Tecun Uman border. At that time as well, many crossed via the Suchiate River dividing the two countries.

(Writing by David Alire Garcia in Mexico City. Additional reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico City; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Bernadette Baum)

U.S.-bound migrant caravan in tense standoff at border between Mexico and Guatemala

By Roberto Ramirez

TECUN UMAN, Guatemala (Reuters) – A large caravan of Central Americans was preparing to cross the Guatemalan border into Mexico on Monday, posing a potential challenge to the Mexican government’s pledge to help the United States contain mass movements of migrants.

The migrants were massed on a bridge connecting the two countries early on Monday morning in what appeared to be a tense standoff with Mexican migration officials and soldiers.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to punish Mexico and Central American countries economically if they fail to curb migrant flows, resulting in a series of agreements aimed at taking pressure off the United States in absorbing the numbers.

Migrants crossed into Mexico in small groups during the weekend after Mexican security officials blocked an effort by some Central Americans to force their way through the border.

The bulk of at least 2,000 migrants remained in the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman, opposite the Mexican town of Ciudad Hidalgo, with some saying they planned to set off for Mexico en masse early on Monday, believing that they stood a better chance of making progress in a large caravan.

Mexico has offered migrants work in the south, but those who do not accept it or seek asylum will not be issued safe conduct passes to the United States, the interior ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement on Sunday afternoon that Mexican authorities had received nearly 1,100 migrants in the states of Chiapas and Tabasco and set out various options to them in accordance with their migration status.

“However, in the majority of cases, once the particular migration situation has been reviewed, assisted returns will be carried out to their countries of origin, assuming that their situation warrants it,” the ministry said.

According to Guatemala, at least 4,000 people have entered from Honduras since Wednesday, making for one of the biggest surges since three Central American governments signed agreements with the Trump administration obliging them to assume more of the responsibility for dealing with migrants.

Mexico has so far controlled the border at Tecun Uman more successfully than in late 2018, when a large caravan of migrants sought to break through there. Many later crossed into Mexico via the Suchiate River dividing the two countries.

(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Diane Craft)

Migrant surge into Guatemala reaches 3,500, heads for Mexico

Migrant surge into Guatemala reaches 3,500, heads for Mexico
By Sofia Menchu and Drazen Jorgic

GUATEMALA CITY/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – More than 3,500 Central Americans had poured into Guatemala by Friday in U.S.-bound gatherings known as caravans, officials said, posing a headache for the leaders of Guatemala and Mexico amid fierce U.S. pressure to curb migration.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged the region to prevent such groups of migrants reaching Mexico’s border with the United States, and the latest exodus from Honduras that began on Wednesday has been accompanied by U.S. border agents.

The migrants, some travelling in groups as small as a dozen people while others formed caravans of more than 100, said they planned to unite at the Guatemalan border city of Tecun Uman before crossing together into Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government was monitoring the situation as the migrants approached, saying there were 4,000 jobs available on the southern border, as well as shelters and medical help.

“We are keeping an eye on everything,” Lopez Obrador said during a regular press conference.

Lopez Obrador did not say if Mexico would seek to keep the migrants in the southern part of the country. Most Central Americans who leave their countries escaping poverty and violence are eager to make their way towards the United States.

Under U.S. pressure, Mexican security forces have increasingly broken up large groups as they head north.

On Wednesday, Guatemala’s new President Alejandro Giammattei suggested Mexico would prevent any caravans from reaching the United States.

About a thousand migrants entered Guatemala on Thursday, with local officials busing some of the migrants back to the Honduran border to fill out official paperwork, said Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman for Guatemala’s migration institute.

“We haven’t returned people from Guatemala and we have a total of about 3,543 people who have so far crossed the border,” Mena said.

At least 600 Honduran migrants spent the night under tents in a shelter in Guatemala City on Thursday night, sleeping on mattresses.

“Now we have more experience, and we know how to treat them,” said Father Mauro Verzeletti, director of the Migrant House shelter in Guatemala City.

Guatemala’s former President Jimmy Morales agreed last July with the U.S. government to implement measures aimed at reducing the number of asylum claims made in the United States by migrants fleeing Honduras and El Salvador, averting Trump’s threat of economic sanctions.

New leader Giammattei said a top priority would be reviewing the text of migration agreements made with the United States.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City and Drazen Jorgic in Mexico City; Editing by Dave Graham and Frances Kerry)

Over 1,000 migrants enter Guatemala, caravan heads toward Mexico

By Sofia Menchu

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – At least 1,300 people have entered Guatemala in a new U.S.-bound caravan from Honduras, authorities said on Thursday, putting pressure on the region to satisfy Trump administration demands to contain northbound illegal immigration.

Mexico’s government is bracing for the arrival of hundreds of Central Americans on its southern border in coming days, an event likely to be closely monitored by the U.S. government, which has made curbing illegal immigration a priority.

Arriving in Guatemala chiefly via crossings on its northern border with Honduras, around 1,350 migrants had been registered entering legally by late morning, said Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman for Guatemala’s National Migration Institute.

U.S. President Donald Trump has put Mexico and Central American nations under pressure to accept a series of migration agreements that aim to shift the burden of dealing with asylum-seekers on to them, and away from the United States.

The bulk of migrants caught on the U.S. border with Mexico depart from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador seeking to escape chronic poverty or gang violence.

Unlike Guatemala, Mexico has refused to become a so-called safe third country obliging it to accept asylum claims from migrants that set foot on its soil. Still, Trump has threatened trade sanctions if it does not contain the flow of people.

Guatemala’s new president, Alejandro Giammattei, said on Wednesday that Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard had told him Mexico would not allow the new caravan to pass.

Mexico’s foreign ministry has not responded directly to that assertion. However, Interior Minister Olga Sanchez said the border would be policed and that the Mexican government would not be issuing any visas of safe conduct to the migrants.

“That’s very clear,” she told reporters.

According to communications shared by some of the migrants on messaging service WhatsApp, some of the Hondurans said that they planned to meet in the town of Santa Elena in northern Guatemala and head for the Mexican border on Saturday.

Under a freedom of movement accord between northern Central American countries, Giammattei said he would let the caravan enter Guatemala provided people had the necessary paperwork.

Some migrants were turned back at the Guatemalan border on Wednesday and Honduran police fired tear gas on others who tried to cross without going through migration checks.

(Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City and Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by David Gregorio)

U.S. asylum seekers sent to Guatemala preferring to return to home countries

U.S. asylum seekers sent to Guatemala preferring to return to home countries
By Sofia Menchu

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – U.S. asylum seekers sent to Guatemala under a new Trump administration program have mostly preferred to return to their country of origin instead of staying in the Central American nation, Guatemala’s Interior Minister said on Thursday.

The new effort began after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump brokered an agreement with the Guatemalan government in July. The deal will allow U.S. immigration officials to force migrants requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for asylum in Guatemala first.

The program initially will be applied at a U.S. Border Patrol station in El Paso, Texas. The first phase will target adults from Honduras and El Salvador.

Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart said that a total of 24 people have been sent to Guatemala under the program.

Of those “only two have requested asylum (in Guatemala),” Degenhart said during a visit by Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

While the asylum agreement with Guatemala will start slowly, the Trump administration intends to make few exceptions. Federal immigration officials have been instructed not to apply the program to unaccompanied children, migrants with valid U.S. travel documents, or cases of public interest, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials and documents.

“For those in the region who may be weighing the option of taking the dangerous journey north, I’d strongly urge you against it,” said Wolf, in prepared remarks. “Simply requesting asylum at the Southwest border no longer guarantees release into the interior like it once did. We have ended catch and release,” Wolf added.

(Reporting by Sofia Menhu; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Sandra Maler)

U.S. agents at Guatemala checkpoints see holes in border security

U.S. agents at Guatemala checkpoints see holes in border security
By Sofia Menchu

EL PROGRESO, Guatemala (Reuters) – At a highway checkpoint in central Guatemala, 10 U.S. officers in caps and sunglasses and packing concealed weapons watched as local border agents flagged down vehicles, inspected documents and prepared to fingerprint any undocumented migrants.

On a recent visit, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents observed from a few feet as Guatemalans stopped all vehicles carrying more than five people.

The U.S. training mission for Guatemalan security forces, which includes instruction in using biometric devices, stems from the first of two accords aimed at making the Central American country halt flows of asylum-seekers heading north.

“The operations are being carried out at strategic points,” said Keneth Morales, a Guatemalan agent. “We have detected migratory flows and illegal traffic.”

However, U.S. agents taking part in the program told Reuters they found shortcomings in their counterparts from the country’s Division of Ports, Airports and Border Posts (Dipafront).

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the agents said many of the Guatemalan officials were unaware of their own immigration laws or lacked basic knowledge about detention techniques, weapons handling and interrogation of undocumented immigrants.

At another checkpoint in Chiquimula, near the border with El Salvador, “people ask us if we are from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) … nobody has explained to them what we are doing here,” said one U.S. official.

The training program aims to instruct an expected 200 Guatemalan police in performing stricter border checks for suspected people-smugglers and in handling detentions and repatriations.

TRAINING MISSION

U.S. agents are also training police and anti-narcotics agents in first aid, among other courses.

The U.S. Department Of Homeland Security did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the U.S. trainers’ observations.

Rights groups have argued in recent months that Guatemala, and its neighbors El Salvador and Honduras do not have the institutional capacity to carry out enforcement and asylum work demanded by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The May security deal, which is initially for two years, was followed by a July agreement to take in more asylum seekers. Honduras and El Salvador later struck similar asylum accords.

The three troubled countries send the highest number of migrants north seeking asylum in the United States, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Enforcement. Asylum applications at the U.S.-Mexico border reached a decade-long high in 2018, according to U.S. government data.

Under U.S. supervision, Dipafront officers have installed checkpoints along roads that were last year traveled by thousands of Central American migrants in caravans.

Trump repeatedly lashed out at the caravans and earlier this year, the U.S. government cut aid to Central America after he said the region needed to do more to stop citizens leaving.

Pablo Castillo, a spokesman for Guatemala’s national police, said the agents’ comments presented a “false impression” of Guatemalan officers and put down the U.S. interpretation to differences in procedures and training methods between the two countries.

Still, Castillo conceded that Guatemala could improve the scope of its weapons training and better equip the police.

Luis Enrique Arevalo, Guatemala’s deputy security minister, also pushed back against the criticism, saying officers received thorough training at the national police college.

“No national police leave the academy without being able to handle techniques of arrest and firearms well,” he told Reuters.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; additional reporting and writing by Delphine Schrank; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Migrant deaths rise among Venezuelans, Central Americans: U.N.

FILE PHOTO: The U.S.-Mexico border is seen near Lukeville, Pima County, Arizona, U.S., September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – At least 380 Latin American migrants have died on their journeys this year, many of them Venezuelans drowning in the Caribbean or Central Americans perishing while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.N. migration agency said on Tuesday.

The toll, 50 percent more than the 241 recorded as of mid-June 2018, also coincides with tightened security along the U.S. southern border, which often leads migrants to turn to underground criminal smugglers and take riskier routes, it said.

President Donald Trump has made reducing illegal migration one of his signature policy pledges. His administration on Monday cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, after Trump blasted the three Central American countries because thousands of their citizens had sought asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico.

“This month has been marked by several tragedies on the U.S.-Mexico border, where at least 23 people have died since May 30 May, that is more than one per day,” spokesman Joel Millman of the International Organization for Migration told a briefing.

IOM figures show that so far, 144 migrants are known to have died in Mexico, 143 in the Caribbean, 66 along Mexico’s southern border with Central America and 27 in South America.

A further 42 reported deaths were under investigation in Mexico, and of several dozen more refugees and migrants crossing the Darien jungle in Panama, he added.

“So we are seeing a level of fatality that we haven’t seen before. We caution that with the summer months just beginning, with the intense heat that brings, we can expect it to get worse,” Millman said.

Four million Venezuelans have fled their homeland, most of them since an economic and humanitarian crisis began in 2015, the U.N. refugee agency says. Most went overland to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil.

But in images reminiscent of desperate Cubans fleeing their homeland in decades past, Venezuelans increasingly are taking to the sea in rickety boats.

The overall toll includes more than 80 Venezuelans who have died or disappeared in three shipwrecks in the Caribbean in the past two months, Millman said.

UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch called for better search and rescue operations to save Venezuelans fleeing via the Caribbean.

“As Venezuelans continue to use dangerous sea routes to leave their country, the U.N. refugee agency is calling for more coordinated search and rescue efforts to prevent further loss of life,” Baloch said.”It is also absolutely vital that people are able to access safe territory in ways that do not require them to risk their lives,” he said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Mexico says it will finish National Guard roll-out to stem migration this week

FILE PHOTO - Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard speaks during a session with senators and lawmakers at the Senate building in Mexico City, Mexico June 14, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico will complete deployment of National Guard forces on its southern border with Guatemala this week as part of a new immigration control plan agreed with Washington, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard’said on Monday.

“The deployment of the National Guard ordered, with support from the Ministry of Defense and the Navy, will be completed this week,” Ebrard said at a news conference.

Mexico is stepping up efforts to cut the flow of mostly Central American migrants toward the U.S. border under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, who vowed to hit Mexican goods with tariffs if it did not increase immigration control efforts.

Mexico made a deal on June 7 with the United States to avert the tariffs, setting the clock ticking on a 45-day period for the Mexican government to make palpable progress in reducing the numbers of people trying to cross the U.S. border illegally.

Mexico has pledged to send 6,000 National Guard members along its border with Guatemala under the deal.

That deployment has been patchy so far. A Reuters reporter near the border this weekend saw a handful of officials wearing National Guard insignia and spoke to other security personnel who said they were part of the guard.

There has been a jump in apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border this year, angering Trump, who has made reducing illegal immigration one of his signature policy pledges as he heads into his campaign to win a second four-year term in November 2020.

Most of those caught attempting to enter the United States are people fleeing poverty and violence in the troubled Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Dave Graham and Bill Trott)

Migrants rush to enter Mexico ahead of security crackdown demanded by Trump

Migrants from Central America cross the Rio Bravo river to enter illegally into the United States to turn themselves in to request for asylum in El Paso, Texas, U.S., as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 11, 2019. Picture taken June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

By Hugh Bronstein

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico (Reuters) – Central American migrants eager to beat a crackdown by Mexico on its southern border with Guatemala scrambled into the country on Thursday as the government prepared to send thousands of National Guard members to plug gaps in the porous frontier.

Mexico has agreed with the United States to demonstrate by late July that it can contain a surge in U.S.-bound migrants, following a threat from U.S. President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on Mexican goods if it failed to do so.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said this week that Mexico would beef up control of its southern border, including sending 6,000 members of the National Guard. The deployment was due to begin on Wednesday though witnesses saw no signs of the deployment.

Migrants from Central America run towards the Rio Bravo river to cross and enter illegally into the United States to turn themselves in to request for asylum in El Paso, Texas, U.S., as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 12, 2019. Picture taken June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Migrants from Central America run towards the Rio Bravo river to cross and enter illegally into the United States to turn themselves in to request for asylum in El Paso, Texas, U.S., as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 12, 2019. Picture taken June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

As dawn broke on Thursday, a family of Honduran migrants floated across a narrow crossing of the Suchiate River from Guatemala on a raft and staggered onto Mexican soil.

“They told us that they were deploying the National Guard,” said Melvin Ochoa, 28, carrying his 20-month-old daughter. Beside him was his heavily pregnant wife. “It made us hurry. I’m pushing to continue faster so they won’t catch us.”

The trip was especially risky for Ochoa’s wife who was only one month shy of giving birth. She declined to give her name.

“But the risks at home were worse,” Ochoa said, explaining that the family had fled loan sharks affiliated with a criminal gang who demanded money even after they had paid them back.

“If not, they were going to kill us.”

Behind them, the steady daily traffic of the river continued unabated, with no Mexican official in sight. Migration officials remained in the shadow of immigration posts on a bridge linking the two countries.

Improvised rafts made of planks of wood floating on giant inner-tubes carried black-market Corona beer, coffee and other contraband toward Guatemala. Half a dozen more floated toward Mexico crowded with Central Americans fleeing gang violence and poverty.

It was business at usual too at immigration checkpoints along the highway north.

“We haven’t seen any increase,” said a police officer at a checkpoint, when asked about any build-up in security forces. He asked not to be identified because he lacked permission to speak to the press.

Mexico and the United States brokered an immigration agreement last week to prevent Washington from imposing tariffs starting at 5% on Mexican goods. The Mexican government has agreed to consider changing its migration laws after 45 days if it proves unable to stem the flow of people.

The standoff over the border has piled pressure on Mexico’s leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He has called for national unity, describing the tariff threat as unfair, but vowing to avoid confrontation with the United States, Mexico’s largest trading partner.

Threatening to raise tariffs on Mexican imports as high as 25%, Trump wants Mexico to accept asylum seekers as part of his effort to slow the flow of migrants and to relieve pressure on stretched U.S. border and immigration authorities.

Mexico in December agreed to start taking in mostly Central American asylum seekers while their cases are being heard in the United States and absorbed about 10,000 during the first few months of this year, according to the Mexican government.

However, under the deal struck last week, tens of thousands could be sent back to Mexico before the end of this year, putting increased pressure on Mexican migration authorities, said Deputy Interior Minister Alejandro Encinas.

“This has become a national problem,” he told Reuters.

‘AS FAR AS GOD PERMITS’

Mexico sends around 80% of its exports to the United States so any move by Trump to impose levies on its goods would have serious repercussions for the economy, which is already struggling after contracting in the first quarter.

Given that the United States had never managed to properly seal its own southern border, the chance of Mexico doing any better were extremely remote, said Andres Rozental, a former Mexican deputy foreign minister responsible for North America.

“We’re never going to be able to get what presumably Mr. Trump wants in 45 days,” Rozental told Reuters.

Complicating the deployment of the militarized police force along the border is the fact that the National Guard was only formally created a few weeks ago, and Lopez Obrador’s six-month-old administration is still finding its feet.

For some migrants, those issues are of small consequence.

“We have no plan. Only to go forward, as far as God permits,” said Antonio Hernandez, 29, stepping off another raft at dawn with his wife and 2-year-old son. Anxious and exhausted from days of travel since they fled El Salvador, they hustled on.

 

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Additional reporting and writing by Dave Graham and Delphine Schrank in Mexico City; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Cynthia Osterman)