Some 500 migrants from Central America, Venezuela and elsewhere fought with Mexican police, National Guard and immigration officers in southern Mexico Friday in one of the first such marches this year.
The migrants described the march as a traditional annual protest related to Holy Week, and those at the front carried a white cross, as others have done in previous years.
However, this year the protest came two weeks early and some participants said they would go far beyond the usual short march and try to reach the U.S. border.
In a clash with National Guard officers and immigration agents, the migrants used the cross they were carrying as a battering ram to break through the Guard lines, shattering the wooden cross.
The officers, who had riot shields, batons and what appeared to be an irritant spray, detained some marchers. The two sides exchanged blows and many migrants left behind knapsacks in the melee.
Some managed to break through and disappear down dirt roads and paths, but many of the rest of the marchers took refuge in a church just a few miles outside of Tapachula.