At least 1,300 migrants, mostly from Cuba, broke out of an immigration detention center in Southern Mexico on April 25. The incident, authorities said, shows how a surge in arrivals has stretched the country’s resources to the limit.
The moment of the break out was recorded on camera and posted by media Azteca Noticias. The footage depicted throngs of migrants running out of the facility on foot as security appeared overwhelmed. It’s unclear if there were any injuries during the incident.
Later, over half of the migrants returned to the Siglo XXI facility in the border city of Tapachula in Chiapas state, according to a statement from Mexico’s National Immigration Institute. About 600 migrants still remain unaccounted for.
Cuban migrants, the majority being held in the facility, were largely behind the breakout, the institute added. Mexican newspaper Reforma reported that Haitians and Central Americans were also among those who fled the facility, which has been crammed in recent weeks.
Momento en el que huyen decenas de migrantes centroamericanos y cubanos tras amotinarse en la estación del INM de Tapachula, Chiapas. pic.twitter.com/SNXBpxX72A
— Azteca Noticias (@AztecaNoticias) April 26, 2019
— INM (@INAMI_mx) April 26, 2019
Mexico has returned 15,000 migrants in the past 30 days, officials said, amid pressure from President Donald Trump to stem the flow of foreigners moving north throught the country.
U.S. officials said they arrested or denied entry to more than 103,000 people along the border with Mexico in March, more than twice as many as the same period in 2018.
The majority of migrants moving through Mexico are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, but Cubans are also joining in large numbers. More than 1,000 people from Cuba are now in Chiapas, according to Mexican officials.
Trump on April 24 reiterated that he would close part of the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico doesn’t block what described as a new caravan of migrants headed north.
“A very big Caravan of over 20,000 people started up through Mexico,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “It has been reduced in size by Mexico but is still coming. Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military.”
A very big Caravan of over 20,000 people started up through Mexico. It has been reduced in size by Mexico but is still coming. Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military. The Coyotes & Cartels have weapons!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2019
Trump also said that any additional troops sent to the U.S.–Mexico border will be armed after two U.S. soldiers were held at gunpoint and questioned by Mexican troops on the U.S. side of the border.
“Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border. Better not happen again!” Trump said in an April 24 tweet. “We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!”
There are about 5,000 troops deployed at the border, including some 3,000 active-duty and 2,100 National Guard members, The Military Times reported on April 10.
Their mission is to reinforce border barriers and provide logistical support to the Border Patrol, amid a surge in illegal border crossings this year.
The military can’t engage in domestic law enforcement unless authorized by Congress, but it can potentially use lethal force in defense of the border agents.
Most of the troops were deployed without their service weapons, then-Defense Secretary Gen. Jim Mattis said in November 2018.
Epoch Times reporter Petr Svab and Reuters contributed to this report