“We are a country that values and recognizes the dignity of migrant people,” he said. “Almost all of us have some relative or close friend who has migrated.”
Even before Peña Nieto’s announcement, more than 2,700 migrants from this large group had filed paperwork seeking asylum in Mexico, and hundreds had voluntarily agreed to return to their home country. But thousands more kept heading north.
Negotiations at a police blockade
They set out in the early morning darkness Saturday, a routine they’d followed for days. But as they walked down a highway outside Arriaga, Mexico, they soon learned that this early morning trek wouldn’t be like the others.
A wall of police in riot gear greeted them, blocking their way.
For hours, representatives of the migrants negotiated with authorities. Police said they’d blocked the group to tell them about the government’s new plan.
The migrants declined to sign up, and police eventually let them pass — provided that members of the group remained open to negotiating further at future stops.
Tear gas as another group tries to cross
The situation quickly spiraled out of control, according to CNN en Español correspondent Michelle Mendoza, who reported from the scene.
Migrants threw rocks and sticks. Mexican forces threw tear gas.
In the clashes, a 26-year-old Honduran national, Henry Adalid Díaz Reyes, ended up dead, according to the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office. Authorities are investigating.
“The only way to enter Mexico is following immigration laws,” he said.
It’s unclear how authorities will treat them on the other side.
How do Mexicans feel about Central American migrants? It’s complicated
Mexico historically has had a complex relationship with Central American migrants.
For years, on the often-dangerous journey through Mexico, migrants from Central America have fallen prey to cartel violence and faced harsh criticism from locals.
Asked how they felt about undocumented Central American immigrants being allowed to enter Mexico and being granted refuge, 47.8% of respondents agreed, while 37.8% were against it. Others said they were undecided or didn’t have a strong feeling either way.
According to the newspaper, nearly a third of those surveyed said they believed undocumented migrants should be expelled from the country immediately.
CNN’s Claudia Dominguez, Jaide Garcia, Natalie Gallón and Jennifer Deaton contributed to this report.