Riot police clash with migrants desperate to reach US

Sunita Patel-Carstairs, news reporter

Thousands of Central American migrants travelling to the US remain stranded on Mexico's southern border with Guatemala after clashing with riot police in an attempt to continue their journey in pursuit of the "American dream".

Several members of the huge caravan - which has grown in size since it set off from Honduras last weekend - overran a border gate before police forced them back and closed it again.

Desperate families with women clutching toddlers pleaded with officers to let them through, shouting "there are children here" and "we are hungry".

People could be seen passing babies overhead through the crowd during the tense standoff.

Groups scaled some of the tall fences preventing them from crossing into Mexico shouting "yes we can" and "Mexico".

Some in a queue stretching across a bridge to the Mexico border from the Guatemalan town of Tecun Uman leapt off it into the Suchiate River below to avoid a checkpoint, as others attempted to get across on wooden rafts.

Mexican officials said those with passports and valid visas - a tiny minority of those trying to cross the border - would be let in immediately.

They warned anyone caught entering the country illegally would be detained and deported.

The migrants, mainly from Honduras, have said they are fleeing poverty and violence.

"We're staying here until they open this fence," said Adonai Sanchez, 36, who was travelling with his three nephews aged two, three and 14.

Daisy Zuniga said she joined the caravan "because in my country there are no jobs, there is no way to support the kids".

Juan Carlos Montejo added: "Like all Latinos I am looking for the American dream."

The vast majority of the caravan spent the night on the bridge leading to Mexico on towels and refuse bags.

Those let through to apply for refugee status were taken to a temporary shelter in Ciudad Hidalgo.

Some retreated further back into Guatemala where shelters provided them with food and water.

Migrants remain unperturbed by Donald Trump's threat to close down the US border with Mexico.

The US president on Thursday threatened to deploy soldiers to the border with Mexico and close it off to stop the "large caravans" coming to America.

On Friday he told reporters those travelling to the US en masse were not "little angels" but "hardened criminals".

Mr Trump said: "I don't want them in our country. and neither does our country want them in our country."