Mexico deployed hundreds of riot police on Thursday (Oct 18) to its border with Guatemala as a caravan of Central American migrants prepared to cross on their way to the United States, defying President Donald Trump's threats.
He called for the military to confront the latest caravan and has threatened to cut aid to countries that allow them to advance towards the United States.
The caravan arrived at the border in southern Mexico on Thursday but turned around Friday, the Associated Press reported.
When troops were previously mobilised by Trump in response to unlawful migration, their mission has been mostly passive support for border agents, like logistics and surveillance.
The caravan itself has become a complex political symbol that some observers say is yet another ploy by rival Democrats and a hostile news media to portray the president in a negative light as the midterm elections approach.
A caravan, made up of about 4,000 Hondurans, crossed into Guatemala on Wednesday en route toward the USA border, where the migrants hope to gain asylum.
Mexican officials said the Hondurans would not be allowed to enter as a group and would either have to show a passport and visa - something few have - or apply individually for refugee status, a process that can mean waiting for up to 90 days for approval.
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The issue with Trump's threat is that deploying active USA military troops for domestic law enforcement duties is illegal, unless he declares a national emergency and is granted a waiver by Congress.
A caravan of some 3,000 migrants fleeing Honduras is continuing to walk north to the U.S. border, as Trump threatened to deploy the military and close the U.S. -Mexico border.
Trump's stance, he said, was "what he has always presented", adding he saw "nothing surprising in it". Ebrard said in a local radio interview that Trump's comments were "predictable". Hopefully Mexico will stop this onslaught at their Northern Border.
"The challenge related to security for our southern border is. a challenge for American sovereignty", he said. Migrants broke down the gates at the border crossing and began streaming toward a bridge into Mexico.
"If we don't get across, we're going to try the same thing again", said Gustavo Perez, a Honduran builder speaking at a shelter in Guatemala City.
Mexico's ambassador to Guatemala said his country had chose to enforce a policy of "metered entry" in the face of the thousands clamoring to cross.
"We are quickly reaching a point which appears to be a moment of crisis", said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who addressed the issue in Mexico City. Vox declared that "Trump's "caravan" tantrum could put migrants in danger".