Migrants on the Mexican side of the border wait to cross into the United States at a point near El Paso, Texas, on March 19, 2024
The migrants were arrested on misdemeanor rioting charges. The local public defender vowed to contest them

Texas authorities have arrested over 200 migrants who, they say, were involved in a gate rush that led to a border breach in El Paso in late March. According to The Texas Tribune, they were arrested on misdemeanor rioting charges.

The local district attorney, Bill Hicks, said that Texas National Guard members were injured in the incident, which took place on March 21. He recalled that nine migrants cut through barbed wire and assaulted the National Guard members before more than 400 migrants rushed the gate before reaching another fence.

Seven of the nine people involved in the wire-cutting have been indicted on felony charges or rioting and assaulting a public servant.

The outlet added that a judge released an unspecified number of migrants on personal bonds on Sunday after denying the prosecutors' request to postpone them until after Easter. Hicks added that they were presumably reported after the release.

"While I am not particularly concerned about immigration cases, I am concerned about violence and destruction of property," Hicks said at a Tuesday press conference. "If we don't send a message that they can't do that, I'm concerned." Governor Greg Abbott said that more than 700 National Guard troops were sent to El Paso after the breach.

Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks in Dallas, Texas Reuters

In contrast, El Paso Chief Public Defender Kelli Childress contested the charges, saying they were unfounded and that her office would challenge them. "The charges against these migrants are false and they're an attempt to inflame the public. We are armed with the truth and we are prepared to defend our clients in criminal court."

Texas has been implementing different measures aimed at deterring immigrants from crossing into the state unlawfully, the most salient one being SB4, the state law allowing authorities to arrest and deport those caught in these circumstances.

The law has been put on hold by an appeals court in late March, but the Abbott administration has been looking for other ways to reduce the numbers. A report by the LA Times recently described how it has turned a port of entry into a "militarized zone, fortified by rifle-toting soldiers, a fleet of Humvees and a forest of razor wire glistening in the desert sun."

The report adds that the goal is preventing migrants from reaching the gate altogether, thus making it impossible for them to apply for political asylum or other forms of relief that could allow them to stay in the U.S.

The report witnessed hundreds of people stuck in the area, with one of them saying they wanted to turn themselves in but the army won't let them.

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