EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – U.S. authorities placed barricades in the middle of the Paso del Norte port of entry after learning of a large group of migrants massing on the Mexican side Monday morning.
Some 300 migrants massed on the Mexican side of the Paso del Norte port of entry Monday morning apparently in protest over not being allowed to apply for in-person asylum in the United States and still upset over a fire that claimed the lives of 40 migrants in a Mexican immigration detention facility on March 27.
“I received reports they were making a peaceful manifestation at (PDN). If there is no obstruction (to traffic), we won’t do anything,” Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said at a Monday morning news conference on Facebook Live.
Some migrants left the Paso del Norte Bridge and could be seen walking near the Rio Grande levee apparently going toward the gates on the border wall along El Paso’s Lower Valley, according to Mexican news media report. But families who are camping near the National Migration Institute offices in Juarez replaced those who left.
“We are monitoring a large group at the base of the Paso Del Norte crossing in Juarez. It is our understanding that the group is linked to a protest related to Juarez fire,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Border Report in an email.
As a precaution, CBP deployed barricades to limit vehicular traffic. Pedestrian traffic is being processed, the agency said.
“At approximately 9:30 a.m. CBP did conduct a Mobile Field Force exercise at PDN which did cause a temporary disruption of traffic,” the agency said..
“Possibly I wasn’t going to make it in time or even make it at all because I stayed in Juarez last night and they closed the bridges today,” said El Paso Resident Rose Wisemen who was trying to cross back to El Paso.
CBP said at about 1:25 p.m. when it appeared that the crowed had dispersed, CBP officers removed the hardening measures and the bridge was back open.
Perez Cuellar said some migrants housed at the Kiki Romero municipal shelter have left after receiving misleading messages through social media apps like WhatsApp that the border is open to asylum seekers.
“We try to explain to them the U.S. government does not operate that way. But they get excited” and leave, the mayor said.
“The rumors started to spread on social media, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and it said that they were going to lift it but we don’t know if it’s official or not,” said a migrant who was at the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry on Monday.
A KTSM/Border Report photo crew documented how Mexican officials turned back several vehicles on their end of the Paso del Norte Bridge while they waited for the migrant gathering to break up.