EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Hundreds of foreign nationals have crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso in the past 24 hours, and hundreds more remain on the riverbanks waiting to be processed.
The latest mass crossing event comes a few days after Mexican media reported the arrival of up to 3,000 South and Central Americans to Juarez atop cargo trains. The latest surge comes despite increased checks by Mexican law enforcement at rail yards and police and Mexican National Guard presence on the Juarez side of the river.
On Wednesday morning, an estimated 300 asylum-seekers sat by the U.S. border wall waiting to be picked up by buses headed to Customs and Border Protection processing centers in El Paso. Another 200 stood or came and went on the Mexican side waiting for an opportunity to cross the river despite the heavy presence of Texas National Guard troops and razor wire placed there to discourage unauthorized entries.
A KTSM/Border Report camera crew watched as some migrants lifted the barbwire in places where the soldiers were not present. Others were allowed to come in under the razor wire in small groups by soldiers facing a potentially chaotic, mass crossing event.
Federal officials in El Paso did not immediately have an update on the number of migrants who have crossed the border in the past few hours. They did say that occasional large spikes in migrant crossings are fueled by disinformation by smugglers that the U.S. border is open. Officials said that is not the case and asylum-seekers who circumvent the online application process are subject to loss of future immigration benefits, even if for the moment they are released from custody under a notice to appear in U.S. court.
The City of El Paso’s migrant dashboard on Wednesday showed the population at area processing centers at 5,655, down from a peak of 7,500 early last week. It also showed that more than 800 migrants are being released from federal immigration custody daily and that 12 charter buses had taken 508 migrants out of El Paso in the past day. The buses were going to Denver, Chicago and New York City.
Federal officials on Wednesday acknowledged the processing centers’ population was down “a couple of thousand” prior to Tuesday evening’s surge.
This is a developing news story. Updates will follow.
(Juarez freelance photojournalist Roberto Delgado contributed to this report.)