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Confusion and anger engulf El Paso border bridge

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Texas State Troopers were found under the Paso del Norte Bridge awaiting orders to mobilize.

The story at our border added a new chapter Sunday, Mar. 12, as migrants stormed the Paso del Norte International Crossing to cross into the U.S. after months of waiting in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. 

Hundreds of migrants overwhelmed the Mexican National Guard on Mexico’s side of the bridge. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) rallied to the center of the bridge limiting who crossed. Riot gear was utilized to curb the potential of a violent breakout. The Stanton and Americas Bridges were also stormed with police having to place barricades throughout the mid-afternoon. 

This act of force is a culmination of the narrative that has followed these migrants for months now. Central and South Americans continue to come to the U.S.-Mexico border but are met with opposition. The massive backlog of individuals attempting to seek asylum in the U.S. has forced many to remain in Mexico thanks to Title 42, which was upheld for the time being by the Supreme Court back in December. 

Norte Digital, a news outlet in Cuidad Juárez, found that rumors of “express asylum” would be granted to those who crossed into El Paso. No such program was in place, frustrating many migrants. The mix of emotions led to the surge on Paso del Norte ,around midday Sunday., Migrants were met with wire and tear gas midway through the bridge. 

The norm for this era of immigration would be to apply via a CBP mobile application for asylum. Something that came as a response to Title 42. The app, CBP One, has been used to process asylum seekers virtually as opposed to in-person. This can result in massive wait times for individuals with nowhere else to go. In videos detailing Sunday’s incident, several migrants can be heard claiming that CBP One was not functioning properly, adding to the confusion. 

Several natives from Ciudad Juárez were left wondering when the bridge would reopen. A mother and daughter, who asked not to be named, were shopping in El Paso’s shopping district and were met by a CBP agent at the point of entry denying passage. Unsure of what to do, they headed to the nearby Stanton Bridge. At that point, sometime around 4:30 p.m., Stanton had been cleared up and returned to regular services. 

CBP and Border Patrol were joined by Texas State Troopers and the Texas National Guard on the border, but not on the bridge. State law enforcement has been in El Paso and along the Texas border since 2021 when Texas Governor Greg Abbott launched the controversial Operation Lone Star. The Texas National Guard joined in July 2022 under orders to “return illegal immigrants to border.” 

The potential aftermath of this storm can prove dangerous in mass media and conservative political spheres. Rhetoric used by officials like Abbott can bleed into national media narratives painting a dark image to an already dark issue. Ted Cruz, for example, referred to the migrants as “illegal aliens” in a tweet. Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson referenced Sunday’s incident as an “invasion.” Even El Paso’s own KVIA called the event a “migrant riot” in a headline. 

CBP managed to clear the Paso del Norte bridge well before sundown with pedestrians crossing around 5:30 p.m. and vehicles being permitted an hour later at 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening. 

At the time of writing, CBP has not issued a national or local media release regarding Sunday’s incident. El Paso Police, the Mayor’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety have also not released any statements. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram. 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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Confusion and anger engulf El Paso border bridge