Migrants queue near the border fence
Migrants near the border fence Photo by: Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez

A Texas grand jury indicted over 140 migrants for allegedly attempting to breach the southern border in early April.

The group members were accused of misdemeanor rioting charges, which authorities say began when some cut through razor wire to enter the country.

If convicted, those charged could spend up to 180 days in a county jail and be fined up to $2,000. A smaller group involved in the wire-cutting face federal charges of felony and assaulting a public servant.

The decision contrasts with that of a judge a day before, who had dismissed the case saying that the arrest affidavits from Border Patrol didn't show probable cause that all people named in the documents took part in the incident.

El Paso District Attorney Bill Hicks had said in a press conference that he was considering appealing the ruling by judge Ruben Morales.

Following the grand jury indictment, Hicks said that "the citizens of El Paso, through the grand jury, essentially overruled the judge's ruling and found probable cause to believe that the riots did occur."

He added that there have been over 350 arrests on rioting charges since March. Another large event of the kind had taken place in late march, when over 200 migrants were arrested after being involved in a gate rush leading to a border breach, also in El Paso. 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

Kelli Childress-Diaz, the El Paso Public Defender who represents the defendants, said she wasn't surprised by the decision. "I imagine they had that already prepared before the hearing even started," she said.

"It turns my stomach that these people are nothing more than than, you know, political coins in a bet that some of our government officials have hedged," Childress-Diaz told The Associated Press.

Texas has toughened its measures to deter migrants from entering the country through its territory. Since 2021, there has been an overall decrease in the number of migrants trying to enter the border through the Rio Grande into Eagle Pass. This trend has been shown not only by Abbott in recent interviews, but also through federal statistics.

In fact, more migrants were encountered by Border Patrol agents outside of Texas each of the first three months of this year, according to the Texas Tribune. During the 2023 fiscal year, Texas on average accounted for roughly 59% of migrant encounters along the southwest border. During the first half of the 2024 fiscal year, which began in October, Texas has on average accounted for 43% of migrant encounters.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.