EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials confirmed they deployed “port hardening measures” just before 2 a.m. Monday at the Paso Del Norte bridge in order to control a “large and unruly group” that formed on the Mexican side of the crossing and “posed a threat to overrun the facility.”
A witness who spoke with KTSM at the scene said he estimated a group of approximately 300 migrants attempted to cross the bridge, chanting, “vamos a cruzar,” Spanish for, “We’re going to cross.”
The man said he became fearful for his family once he saw the immediate deployment of CBP officers and Border Patrol agents, and the man attempted to quickly get them into El Paso before CBP closed all lanes of traffic.
KTSM’s Juarez correspondent confirmed the group consisted of about 250 Cuban and El Salvadoran migrants who had been gathered at the port since about midnight.
Traffic cameras from the scene showed barriers and concertina wire blocking all lanes of traffic. El Paso Police confirmed to KTSM they were notified by CBP of a protest on the bridge that was affecting traffic.
Others cameras located at the bridge showed a large gathering of people who appeared to be protesting on the Mexican side of the bridge.
Witnesses in Mexico said CBP was apparently expecting the group and allegedly fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
As of 6 a.m., the migrants were no longer gathered at the base of the Paso Del Norte in Juarez. Pedestrian lanes were reopened at 5:25 a.m. and El Paso Police reopened Downtown streets to allow travel near the bridge.
A news release from CBP states that multiple agencies responded to the overnight event, including CBP Mobile Field Force and Special Response Team members were deployed to the facility. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Protective Services, and the El Paso Police Department.
One lane of Northbound traffic was opened at approximately 7 a.m., while three others opened about 8:25 a.m.
The Paso Del Norte Bridge in Downtown El Paso was closed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol around 3:15 a.m. Monday morning.
Traffic cameras from the scene show deployed barriers and concertina wire along all lanes of traffic. El Paso Police confirm to KTSM they were notified by CBP of a protest on the bridge that is affecting traffic.
Cameras located at the bridge show a large gathering of people who appear to be protesting on the Mexican side of the bridge.
According to a man who spoke with KTSM at the scene, he estimated a group of approximately 300 migrants attempted to cross the bridge, chanting, “vamos a cruzar,” Spanish for, “We’re going to cross.”
The witness says he feared for his family and attempted to quickly get them into El Paso before CBP closed all lanes of traffic.
El Paso Police closed 6th Avenue at Oregon Street and 6th Avenue at El Paso Street to pedestrian and vehicle traffic in order to assist CBP.
This is a developing story, KTSM is working to gather additional information.