CHILDREN went missing yesterday as a US-bound caravan of refugees clashed with Mexican forces under instruction from President Trump to block them from entering Mexico.
Mexican forces fired tear gas at hundreds of Central American refugees as they tried to cross the Mexico-Guatemala border after the Mexican government rejected their request to transit toward the United States.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to punish Mexico and Central American countries economically if they fail to curb the refugee flows.
Trump has just completed a trade deal with both Canada and Mexico, approved last Thursday by the Senate. It seems refugees are part of the trade-off as Mexico agreed to block their passage to the US.
The refugees waded across a river into Mexico in a chaotic scramble that saw mothers separated from their young children.
Witnesses said several children went missing amid the chaos as the refugees scattered to avoid being detained by Mexican officials.
According to Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM), the mostly Honduran refugees were part of a group of several thousand people that had set off last week from Honduras, fleeing violence and poverty in their homeland.
One of the refugees said: ‘We didn’t come to stay here. We just want to cross to the other side. I don’t want to go back to my country because there is nothing there, just hunger.’
The Honduran Ambassador to Mexico said that Mexican authorities have some 1,300 Hondurans in migration centres and will start deporting them back home.
The Trump administration is scrambling to make good on his campaign promises to curb immigration at the US-Mexico border.
Trump’s anti-immigration policy ‘build the wall’ was a big issue of his 2016 election campaign and is now a major issue as he seeks re-election this year.
The US president has long promised to build a wall on the US border with Mexico to physically stop the inflow of refugees.
Trump had initially promised that Mexico would pay for his wall. But, when he failed to secure funding from Mexico, he turned to the US Congress, which also refused to provide the funds.
Trump launched the ‘zero tolerance’ policy in 2018 that saw more than 2,300 children separated from their parents at the border, before the government backed down amid a massive public outcry.