More than 200 migrants arrested after rushing an El Paso border gate

By Alejandro Serrano, The Texas Tribune

More than 200 migrants arrested after rushing an El Paso border gate” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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More than 200 migrants have been arrested on misdemeanor rioting charges in connection with a late March border breach in El Paso that the local district attorney said injured Texas National Guard members. The local public defender vowed to contest what she contends are “false” charges.

The incident occurred March 21 at a border gate at the Rio Grande, where El Paso District Attorney Bill Hicks said nine migrants cut through concertina wire and assaulted National Guard members at the front of a group of roughly 1,000 asylum-seekers.

An estimated 425 migrants broke away from the larger group and through the wire, rushing over the Guard members at the gate before reaching another fence, according to Hicks and a video published by the New York Post.

Department of Public Safety troopers wanted to charge more than 300 people, but ultimately arrested approximately 221 of those individuals, Hicks said, including seven of the nine people who have been indicted on felony charges of rioting and assaulting a public servant.

DPS is looking for the other two people accused of leading the charge, who were released by Border Patrol agents, Hicks said.

The rest of the migrants face misdemeanor rioting charges. It’s not clear how many remained at the county jail this week.

On Easter Sunday, a judge released an unspecified number of the migrants on personal bonds after denying prosecutors’ request to postpone bond review hearings until after the holiday. Hicks said he was told the released migrants had federal detainers and were presumably deported following their release.

“While I am not particularly concerned about immigration cases, I am concerned about violence and destruction of property,” Hicks said at a Tuesday press conference, alleging that migrants punched Guard members in the face and stomped on their knees and saying that one tried to take a Guards member’s gun. “If we don’t send a message that they can’t do that, I’m concerned.”

At a separate news conference Tuesday, El Paso Chief Public Defender Kelli Childress said the charges against the migrants were unfounded and that her office planned to challenge them. It was not immediately clear how many of the migrants her office is tasked with defending.

“In time through the court process, the real incidents that had occurred on that morning — as well as going backwards into the evening before — will be revealed,” Childress said. “The charges against these migrants are false and they’re an attempt to inflame the public. We are armed with the truth and we are prepared to defend our clients in criminal court.”

Gov. Greg Abbott said state troopers were “instructed to arrest every illegal immigrant involved for criminal trespass [and] destruction of property” related to the breach.

More than 700 National Guard troops were dispatched to El Paso after the breach, Abbott said last week.

Prosecutors will review each case to decide whether to prosecute individuals, even if they were released and deported, Hicks said. In such instances, he said a case may result in an arrest warrant for a person that authorities can’t locate.

Childress said she did not know if any of her clients had already been deported because Immigration and Customs Enforcement had not given her that information.

“If we are not able to locate anyone, we might proceed a different route with a motion for dismissal,” Childress said.


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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/04/02/texas-el-paso-border-gate-breach/.

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