A caravan of thousands of migrants from Honduras headed to the U.S. southern border clashed with Guatemalan authorities on Sunday after they crossed the countries’ common border on their journey north.
An estimated 7,000 migrants have entered Guatemala in recent days hoping to make their way to the U.S. border.
The caravan clashed with only about 3,000 Guatemalan officers near the village of Vado Hondo, about 34 miles from the border of Honduras, Reuters reported. Security forces attempted to block their way by using tear gas and beating the migrants back with sticks. Several were injured in the confrontation Sunday morning.
“Guatemala’s message is loud and clear: These types of illegal mass movements will not be accepted, that’s why we are working together with the neighboring nations to address this as a regional issue,” the Guatemalan president’s office said of the influx of traveling migrants.
Meanwhile, a senior Biden transition official is warning migrants hoping to cross the southern border into the U.S. during the early days of the new administration that “now is not the time” to come.
“The situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight,” the official told NBC News, and migrants seeking to gain asylum right away “need to understand they’re not going to be able to come into the United States immediately.”
The Biden administration plans to loosen the Trump administration’s more stringent restrictions on who is eligible for asylum. However, any immigration legislation proposed by the Biden administration is expected to focus on the status of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. rather than new migrants arriving at the border.
The migrant caravan may have been encouraged to make the trek by the incoming Biden administration’s rhetoric promising to roll back some of the stricter Trump administration immigration policies. Caravans of migrants set out every year from Central America hoping to make the dangerous journey north and ultimately gain entry to the U.S.