EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexican authorities briefly shut down the entrance to a busy U.S. port of entry Thursday, after a crowd gathered, intent on marching to the American side to request asylum.
About 20 family units – most of them from the Mexican state of Zacatecas – arrived at the Paso del Norte International Bridge between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas shortly before noon MST, Mexican authorities told KTSM. The crowd was stopped by Mexican guards on alert in anticipation of a possible surge of migrants, given the change of government at the White House.
Some of the migrants said they were hoping “things had changed” with Joe Biden in the White House and that their asylum petitions would be expedited. The asylum process has been at a standstill since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March of 2020.
Some of the families carried suitcases, backpacks and other belongings and were generally well-behaved, Mexican authorities told KTSM. However, tensions grew after one asylum seeker allegedly tried to forcefully make his way to the U.S. side of the port of entry and was impeded; at that point, Mexican authorities closed off access and escorted a family from Venezuela from the premises.
The man, a Venezuelan national, told reporters on the Mexican side that he was “beaten” while trying to cross into the U.S. side. A cell phone video obtained by KTSM shows uniformed officers trying to physically restrain him while a woman in the background cries and says, “you’re going to kill him!”
A second video obtained by Border Report shows a uniformed agent prior to the scuffle tell the migrant in Spanish “No nos obligue a usar la fuerza, por favor” (Don’t force us to use force, please).
The video doesn’t appear to document a beating, but the man later shows reporters lacerations to one of his hands and says he was beaten by Border Patrol (sic). He says his name is Victor and that he tried to cross with his wife and children.
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection described a “brief traffic disruption” after a small group of four to six individuals attempted entry. The spokesman said CBP did not engage in a security exercise and that Mexican officials took custody of the small group.
Case workers from the Migrant Assistance Center in Juarez arrived at the scene minutes later and persuaded the families to leave the border crossing. The crowd reassembled at the center to meet individually with Mexican officials.