Mexico deployed hundreds of riot police on Thursday 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.
Hundreds of federal police in riot gear fanned out on the international bridge in Suchiate, on the Mexican-Guatemalan border, as the caravan of several thousand Honduran migrants trekked toward the crossing.
Guatemala also sent police reinforcements to its side of the border, after Trump threatened to cut aid to the region, deploy the military and close the US-Mexican border if the migrants were allowed to continue.
A first group of several hundred migrants arrived late on Wednesday in the border town of Tecun Uman, Guatemala, where they overflowed a local shelter, leaving many to sleep in the town square or on the street, an AFP correspondent said.
Many were traveling with a single change of clothes and little money. Others were carrying young children in their arms.
The migrants planned to wait for the rest of the caravan to arrive, then cross the border en masse in hopes of overwhelming the Mexican authorities, who have vowed to detain anyone without a visa.
The caravan successfully used the same strategy Monday to cross from Honduras to Guatemala at the border town of Agua Caliente, despite efforts by some 100 police to stop them.
"We're going to rest here and wait for the others who are on their way so we can enter (Mexico) en masse, like we did at Agua Caliente," Edgar Elias, one of the leaders of the caravan, told AFP.
But nature may complicate that plan: the shallow Suchiate river, which forms the border, was swollen by rain overnight.
That will likely reduce the number of places where the migrants can attempt to cross the highly porous border illegally, especially since many are traveling with young children.