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Videos: 1,000+ migrants rush border; riot squad deployed

Protesters clash on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, with police guarding a sports facility in Tijuana where more than 2,000 Central immigrants are sheltered. Protesters demanded an end to the Central American immigrant caravans making their way north from the border with Guatemala, and called for the expulsion of migrants already in Mexico. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
March 13, 2023

A crowd of migrants estimated to be at least 1,000 strong attempted to rush a border crossing in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday, triggering a riot control response seen in dramatic footage shared online.

The standoff halted traffic on the Paso Del Norte Bridge for about five hours and saw riot-gear-clad agents with Customs and Border Protection block the crowd with barricades topped with barbed wire, El Paso Times reported.

The incident comes as El Paso struggles under the weight of what it refers to as a years-long “migrant crisis,” which recently saw a huge spike. CBP encounters with migrants in the El Paso area jumped 87.4 percent percent from August to December, and now seem to have returned to pre-spike levels, the agency’s data shows. 

Video shared by Fox correspondent Bill Melugin appeared to show migrants whistling and shouting as they streamed across the bridge. He said a source on the Mexican side of the border estimated the group to number “at least 1,000.”

Another video shared by local news anchor Lianna Golden shows the crowd halted by barriers on the American side.

In a tweet, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called the videos “stunning.”

READ MORE: Report: Biden pressured El Paso mayor not to declare immigration emergency

“Mad rushes like this will continue to happen so long as illegal aliens think the American president doesn’t give a damn about law and order,” Cruz said.

In a statement reported by Melugin, CBP said its Mobile Field Force deployed “port hardening measures” on the bridge at 1:30 p.m. after the large group posed “a potential threat to make a mass entry.”

READ MORE: Nearly 600,000 migrants let into US without court dates since March 2021

CBP officers were assisted in the response by Border Patrol agents and the Office of Field Operations Special Response Team, according to the statement.

Other migrant groups also brought “temporary disruptions” to two other bridges, according to the statement. Barricades were used for 45 minutes on both the Stanton-Lerdo bridge and the Bridge of the Americas.

Most of the crowd had returned to the Mexican side by 5:30 p.m., El Paso Times reported, and the bridge was reopened to vehicles by 6:30 p.m.

Various nationalities were represented in the migrant crowd, but most were Venezuelans, according to Norte Digital. They were reportedly motivated by rumors that they would be given political asylum.