Trump says he's reducing Central American aid over migrants

Honduran migrants heading in a caravan to the US try to cross to Mexico in the border city of Tecun Uman

Trump tweeted Thursday morning he would "close our southern border" if the caravan threatened to breach it, and on Sunday the Trump administration again said it was still "following" the movements of the group, made up mostly of Central Americans, that had pushed its way deep into Mexico.

As police with riot shields stood on the Mexican side of the border bridge, about 50 migrants managed to push their way through before the police officers fired tear gas and pepper spray at them, and the rest retreated, the Associated Press reported.

On Friday, they began letting them through in a trickle - first women and children, who were ushered onto trucks and taken to shelters. "This is an exodus", said Ruben Figuerora of the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, standing on the muddy bank of the Mexican side of the Suchite river, as a line of young male migrants walked past him after crossing on a raft.

A group of Central American migrants cross the Suchiate River aboard a raft, on the the border between Guatemala and Mexico, in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico on Saturday.

Trump meanwhile in a series of tweets asserted that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners" are amid the crowd, for which he offered no evidence. At the Honduran border town of Corinto, immigration officials checked documents of migrants who then boarded buses to return to their homes.

Most of the migrants on the move on Sunday - by one local government estimate more than 7,000 people - had crossed the border illegally in recent days by swimming or rafting across the Suchiate River, which separates Guatemala from Mexico. That means the number of migrants in the caravan could be as high as 10,000.

The caravan members ranged from farmers and bakers to housewives and students, and included a whole block of friends and family from the Honduran city of El Progreso.

"The Mexican Government is fully engaged in finding a solution that encourages safe, secure, and orderly migration", State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saturday, "and both the United States and Mexico continue to work with Central American governments to address the economic, security, and governance drivers of illegal immigration".

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Mexico deploys hundreds of riot police as migrants near
In Guatemala City, where migrant shelters filled with people, waves of people departed at daybreak on roads leading to Mexico . Migrant Luis Navarreto, 32, said he had read about Trump's threats regarding aid to his country but was undeterred.

In interviews along the journey, migrants have said they are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and corruption in Honduras.

That hasn't worked, but experts said the strategy would take up to a decade and require continued investment and oversight under a coordinated strategy that was upended when Trump succeeded President Barack Obama.

He vowed to reach the US border, still almost 2,000 road miles away at its closest point.

The migrants, many of whom are trudging north on worn shoes or bare feet, with some fainting from dehydration along the way say they are fleeing violence and murderous gangs in their homelands.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the border clash was "unprecedented" and accused some of the migrants of attacking police.

"Why would I want to go to the United States if I'm going to be persecuted" there as well, she said. "We've not done anything against Mexican law".

At an election rally on Friday in Arizona, a state bordered by Mexico, he told thousands of supporters, "Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to criminals".

The Honduran Foreign Ministry said 2,000 migrants have returned, and hundreds more are on their way.

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