The rather tenuous security situation at the U.S. southern border was challenged in the early hours of Monday morning when a “large and unruly” group of migrants in Mexico attempted to rush a busy border crossing in El Paso, Texas, to gain illicit entry into the United States.
According to CNN, the actions and threats posed by the group of protesters prompted U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to temporarily shut down what is the second-busiest port of entry into the U.S. in the entire country.
Roger Maier, a spokesman for CBP, told CNN that “a large and unruly group formed on the Mexican side” of the Paso del Norte International Bridge that connects El Paso and Juarez, Mexico.
The group formed up about 2 a.m. local time and was reported to be about 250 to 300 members strong when it began to advance toward the border crossing.
Local media outlet KTSM reported that the group, said to be composed largely of Cuban and Salvadoran migrants — though Mexican media asserted the group was mostly Cubans and Hondurans — was reportedly chanting in Spanish “Vamos a cruzar,” which translates to “We’re going to cross,” an obvious statement of the group’s intentions.
Border officials shut down the crossing just before 2 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) after “a large and unruly group formed on the Mexican side,” according to agency spokesman Roger Maier https://t.co/iA4EMzkDji
— CNN (@CNN) July 1, 2019
Maier told CNN that the protesters “posed a threat to overrun the facility,” and as such, CBP officials were compelled to put in place “port hardening measures” to prevent the crowd from achieving its stated goal.
That meant the entire border crossing facility was essentially shut down for several hours Monday morning until the crowd of protesters had largely dispersed by about 6 a.m.
At some point in the early morning hours, pedestrian traffic was allowed to slowly resume. Four lanes with inspection booths were opened up for cross-border traffic by 8 a.m., albeit with slow-moving traffic.
Other protective measures included law enforcement officers in riot gear, the deployment of barriers and concertina wire, and even the use of an armored vehicle to block lanes entering the country.
No arrests were made on the U.S. side of the border.
The CBP agents were reportedly reinforced by CBP Air and Marine units, other federal agencies, and even the El Paso Police Department.
KTSM noted that the El Paso police had also shut down some roads inside the city, particularly in the adjacent downtown area, in support of the standoff at the border bridge.
Exit lanes of the port of entry completely blocked off pic.twitter.com/T53ADqlIqa
— Shelby Kapp KTSM (@KappKtsm) July 1, 2019
Prior to the re-opening of the El Paso border crossing, CBP issued an advisory that directed legal border crossers to several other ports of entry in the not-too-distant vicinity.
Northbound vehicular traffic at the Paso Del Norte crossing is stopped because of protests on the Mexican side of the border. Northbound pedestrian lanes are open. Travelers should consider using the Bridge of the America, Ysleta, Santa Teresa or Tornillo ports of entry.
— CBP West Texas (@CBPWestTexas) July 1, 2019
CNN noted that the Paso del Norte bridge in El Paso is one of the busiest border crossing facilities in the U.S., second only to the San Ysidro crossing near San Diego, California.
It is estimated by the Department of Transportation that in 2018 alone, some 12.4 million vehicles with roughly 22.2 million passengers, as well as some 7.2 million pedestrians, crossed used that particular border crossing to enter the U.S.
This unfortunate and disruptive attempt by protesting migrants to illegally enter the U.S. in a massive crowd that can’t be vetted simply highlights the dire need for the U.S. to reassert its sovereignty and control of the border to prevent such unauthorized migration.
There’s no telling who was actually participating, but their intentions were clearly not good.
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