On Sunday, a new wave of hundreds of migrants heading toward the U.S. attempted to force their way over Mexico’s southern border. Violence erupted, leaving one of the migrants dead after what the group says was a rubber bullet fired by Mexican federal police struck him in the head. Mexican authorities, however, deny that their security forces are to blame.
The incident took place at the border near Tecun Uman, where the group of migrants “broke through border barriers,” as another group had done last week. The situation quickly devolved into violence.
“At a news conference late Sunday, Mexican Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida denied that his country’s forces were responsible,” the Associated Press reports. “He said that Mexican federal police and immigration agents were attacked with rocks, glass bottles and fireworks when migrants broke through a gate on the Mexican side of the border, but that none of the officers were armed with firearms or anything that could fire rubber bullets. Navarrete said some of the attackers carried guns and firebombs.”
The initial caravan, which has amassed around 4,000 people, was located near Tapanatepec (population 7,500) in southwestern Mexico on Sunday. Violence broke out there as well. AP reports:
Raul Medina Melendez, security chief for the tiny municipality in Oaxaca state, said the town was distributing sandwiches and water to migrants camped in the central square Saturday night when a man with a megaphone asked people to wait their turn.
Some hurled insults at the man with the megaphone, then they attacked him, Medina said. Police rescued the man as he was being beaten and took him to a hospital for treatment, though his condition was not immediately clear.
The caravan is heading for Niltepec (33 miles northwest) on Monday and still has about 1,000 miles to go before it reaches the U.S. southern border.
As the group broke through the border at Tecun Uman, another wave of some 300 Salvadorans also began moving toward the U.S. on Sunday.
The Trump administration is preparing for the arrival of the waves of migrants and being vocal about those efforts. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the press traveling with him in Prague Sunday that an additional 1,000 active duty Army troops are being prepped to join the approximately 2,000 National Guard forces already at the southern border.
“The additional troops will provide logistical and other support to the Border Patrol, and will bolster the efforts of the approximately 2,000 National Guard forces already there,” AP reports. “The new forces are expected to provide logistical assistance such as air support and equipment, including vehicles and tents.”