Migrants Overwhelm Texas National Guard at Rio Grande, Prompting Release Orders: Border Riot Chaos

El Paso, Texas – A judge in El Paso ordered the release of migrants who were accused of participating in a “border riot” that overwhelmed National Guard troops along the Rio Grande. The stampede occurred on Easter Sunday and resulted in the arrest of about 220 individuals on riot charges. However, court officials stated that migrants will remain in custody if there is a federal immigration hold against them.

According to a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, out of the 220 people booked on riot charges, 39 have been processed for release to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are still detained on immigration detainers. The ruling by Presiding Magistrate Judge Humberto Acosta came during an online teleconference bond hearing, where he criticized the El Paso District Attorney’s Office for not being prepared for detention hearings for each defendant.

Magistrate Judge Acosta ordered that all the individuals involved in the rioting be released on their own recognizance. On Monday, hearings for approximately 40 more defendants in the riot case were waived. El Paso Public Defender Kelli Childress requested that the defendants remain in jail to ensure that defense attorneys can communicate with them if they are released and taken to an immigration center.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Vandenbosch argued that the state was ready to proceed with each hearing. The arrests were made by the Texas Department of Public Safety in connection with a stampede that occurred on March 21. During the incident, asylum-seeking migrants, mostly men from Venezuela, tore down razor wire along the Rio Grande and rushed the border fence in El Paso’s Lower Valley area. Some of the migrants face charges of assaulting Texas National Guard troops.

It remains unclear if the judge’s ruling only applies to the “riot participation” charge, and not to assault and criminal mischief charges related to the border rush. The El Paso District Attorney’s Office has not commented on the ruling due to the Easter holiday weekend.

Last week, Texas sent 700 National Guard soldiers to El Paso to bolster border enforcement. The soldiers included members of the Texas Tactical Border Force, consisting of infantry, scouts, mechanics, and medics. An Operation Lone Star video showed troops replacing damaged razor wire along the Rio Grande, with riot shields to push back migrants.

The release of migrants accused in the border riot raises questions about the handling of such cases and the capacity to process individuals swiftly. It also highlights the challenges faced by law enforcement officials and immigration authorities in dealing with the ongoing border crisis in El Paso.