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CBP officers in riot gear deployed after migrant group arrives at El Paso area border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted an operational readiness exercise at the Camino Real International Bridge in Eagle Pass TX, on Wednesday, Feb. 6 2019. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr)
February 26, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in riot gear were deployed Sunday when a large group of migrants arrived at the Tornillo international bridge outside El Paso, officials said.

More than 30 migrants showed up at the Tornillo border after a continuous influx of migrants from Cuba, Central America and other countries arriving in Juárez in recent weeks.

The migrants seeking asylum arrived just after 6 p.m. at the Tornillo port of entry, southeast of El Paso, CBP said.

“CBP officers were able to accommodate a small number because of port processing capacity limits but the majority were not allowed to make entry at that time,” CBP said in a statement. “CBP mobile field force officers were deployed to Tornillo to help manage the queue.”

Since October, El Paso CBP and Border Patrol agents have been conducting “mobile field force” training exercises using riot gear, in preparation for the possibility that migrant caravans attempt to rush the border.

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On Sunday, CBP had a similar drill about 1 p.m. that temporarily closed the Paso Del Norte Bridge in Downtown El Paso, a CBP spokesman said.

The drill included the use of smoke and officers in riot gear next to recently installed barriers with concertina wire on the bridge. There was no migrant intrusion attempt at the bridge, as was reported by a Juárez newspaper, CBP added.

CBP officers remain posted at the middle of the international bridges in the El Paso area.

CBP has engaged in a practice, known as “metering,” that allows only a small number of asylum-seekers to be processed daily.

Many migrants are told to remain in Mexico, depending on capacity at the border ports of entry to process them, CBP said.

When the ports reach capacity, it can impact CBP’s ability to manage its national security, trade and drug-interdiction duties, CBP said in a statement.

Migrants have said that the wait can last several days or even weeks before they are allowed to present themselves to U.S. border authorities.

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The Casa del Migrante immigrant shelter in Juárez on its Facebook page reports that delays at the U.S. border are creating a backlog of migrants waiting on the Mexican side of the border.

The Catholic-run shelter is at its 600-person capacity and temporary shelters have been opened in gymnasiums in Juárez.

Casa del Migrante has asked for donations of bottled water and cold medicine for children.

There have been more than 1,500 migrants who have arrived in Juárez in recent weeks, according to local news reports.

The immigrant shelter said it is housing migrants from Cuba, Central America, Mexico and other parts of the world. Some of the migrants were part of Central American migrant caravans.

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© 2019 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.