The United States closed its El Paso border crossing point on Monday, as additional migrants gathered at the Texas checkpoint, unambiguously signaling their intention to enter the US by any means necessary.
Approximately 250 protesters crossed the border bridge, according to television station KTSM, reportedly chanting: “we are going to cross” in Spanish, before CBP officials closed the crossing at about 2 a.m., according to CNN.
Pedestrian lanes were reopened at 5:25 a.m., a spokesperson said. As of mid-Monday, vehicle traffic was subject to a 35-minute delay.
Mexico has reportedly deployed its National Guard in the area of the protests, but did not engage the protesters, according to The Hill.
According to reports, CBP agents in El Paso fear that riots may occur among the migrants held in detention facilities on US soil, due, in part, to what has been described as a massive influx of immigrants in heavily overcrowded detention facilities.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspectors have found that migrants in CBP facilities have been kept in “standing-room-only conditions” for weeks, with cells packed to five times their capacity, Reuters reported Monday.
CBP agents “remained armed in the holding areas because of their concerns with the overcrowding that potentially could result in volatile situations (riots etc.),” an inspectors report says.
Reacting to the DHS findings, the White House called the border situation “an acute and worsening crisis,” adding that surging numbers of migrants are overwhelming the agencies.
The White House, seeking to curb illegal immigration in the US, is fighting with US Democratic Senators over an extension to funding the CBP. Earlier last month, lawmakers reached a deal that allowed diverting approximately $4.5 billion to border-related facilities and agencies.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump has signed legislation to provide humanitarian assistance on the southwestern border as federal agencies struggle to cope with the influx of migrants.
"On Monday, July 1, 2019, the President signed into law: H.R. 3401, the 'Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019,' which provides additional fiscal year 2019 emergency supplemental funding for humanitarian assistance and security at the southern border," the White House said in a press release on Monday.
In May, US authorities arrested more than 130,000 migrants along the nation’s border with Mexico, the highest number in 13 years, CBP reported. According to statistics provided by CBP, in fiscal year 2019 the agency has detained 593,507 people at the US-Mexico border.