Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Agents stop crowd at border crossing amid asylum woes

Published:Tuesday | March 14, 2023 | 1:02 AM

EL PASO, Texas (AP):

A large group of migrants in Mexico who were poised to barge into the US over the weekend were blocked from crossing a bridge leading from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, a US Customs and Border Protection spokesman said.

The migrants were “posing a potential threat to make a mass entry”, and physical barriers were put up to restrict their entry at the Paso Del Norte International Bridge on Sunday afternoon, spokesman Roger Maier said in a statement to AP on Monday.

Barricades also were used in El Paso for a short time Sunday afternoon at other border crossings, including the Bridge of Americas and the Stanton-Lerdo bridge, Maier said.

Video of the scene at the Paso Del Norte Bridge on Sunday showed hundreds of migrants brushing past Mexican National Guard officers on the Mexican side, some carrying children on their shoulders. Many appeared to be Venezuelan, by their accents.

Shouting “We want to get through!”, the migrants ran up to the centreline of the bridge, where US authorities had erected concrete and plastic barriers strung with concertina wire.

The migrants were stopped by the barrier and remained on the Mexican side, shouting “Open up for us!” to the US officers. After a time, the migrants ran back towards the Mexican side.

Traffic was reopened and flowing in both directions as of Sunday evening, Maier said. It wasn’t immediately known what caused the attempted mass crossing. A message seeking comment was left with the mayor’s office in El Paso.

The rush across the bridge may have been sparked by false rumours, said Camilo Cruz, who works with the UN migration office in Ciudad Juarez.

Cruz said there was “a rumour that they were going to let them cross massively, particularly people who arrived with children”.

Cruz said the rumours are a recurrent problem. About a month ago, messages began circulating “that there were going to be buses on the US side to take them to Canada ... and when they arrived, they were told it was a lie”.

The worst thing, Cruz said, is that migrants often leave the shelters where they are staying to attend such mass-crossing attempts, only to find the shelters full when they return.