Some images showed migrants scrambling to evade authorities. Others showed a migrant pinned to the ground, surrounded by men in camouflage.
The migrants — largely from Honduras — are part of a new caravan that’s been trekking north for days. It’s the first migrant caravan to form since the Trump administration hashed out a series of deals with Mexico and several Central American countries aimed at stemming migration.
And its arrival in Mexico is already testing authorities on both sides of the border.
Mexico says it welcomes migrants to stay
Mexico’s foreign minister defended the National Guard’s actions and downplayed Monday’s standoff in a press conference Tuesday, telling reporters that no one had been injured, that troops had handled the situation appropriately and that more than 2,000 other migrants traveling in large groups had followed migration laws, crossing peacefully and without incident in recent days.
“Yesterday there was a group of some 1,000 who tried to enter the country by force. A tragedy was avoided, because there can always be a lot of problems, above all when there are children and women,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.
“Despite the stones they were hit with, and a very tense situation, we can say that yesterday, if someone had the intention to provoke, they did not achieve that,” Ebrard said. “If someone is looking for violence in Mexico, they are not going to find it on the part of authorities.”
Asked by a reporter whether he would characterize the situation as a crisis or an emergency, Ebrard said he would not.
“It isn’t an emergency because it happens every year. The same thing happened last year,” he said.
But photos of the clashes at the border dominated the front pages of many Mexican newspapers on Tuesday.
It was another notable sign that Mexico’s approach to caravans, and to migrants in general, has changed over the past year.
Roadblocks on the journey north to the US
Some 1,000 Honduran migrants, he said, have asked to be returned to their home country. Others are still being processed at different migration stations, Ebrard said.
“The instructions of the president have been categorical, to respect the human rights of migrants,” Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero said Tuesday.
“Mexico is a place of asylum, of refuge,” she said.
US officials have said they’re monitoring the latest migrant caravan. As migrants trekked through Guatemala last week, acting US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said he saw the group as notably different.
Wolf said that agreements the US has made with Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras have changed the equation when it comes to large groups of migrants.
“We have CBP agents, tactical agents, in Guatemala. And of course the government of Mexico at President Trump’s urging has deployed national guard to both their southern and northern border,” Wolf said. “So, should individuals make it through all of that, when they reach the Southwest border, they’re going to run into a number of programs that we put in place that will not allow them into the country without any legal reason to be there.”
CNN’s Geneva Sands and CNN en Español’s Rey Rodriguez and Michelle Mendoza contributed to this report.