Hundreds of Migrants Overrun Texas-Mexico Border, Destroying Barriers in Chaotic Riot

By: Alex Trent | Published: Mar 22, 2024

The escalating tension between migrants and Border Patrol agents came to a head on Thursday after videos emerged showing what a reporter describes as a “riot” occurring on the El Paso border.

The videos show migrants attempting to cross into the United States destroying barricades and overwhelming border patrol agents.

El Paso Riot

Reporter Jennie Taer published a video on social media platform X that showed hundreds of migrants pushing through toward barricades in an attempt to cross into the United States.

Migrants rush towards the border barriers in El Paso, Texas.

Source: Jennie Tear/X

“BREAKING: A riot just broke out here in El Paso Hundreds of migrants decided they had enough of TX National Guard returning them to Mexico and rushed the border wall here. Thankful to be here w/ @JamesBreeden,” Taer wrote.


Absolute Chaos

In subsequent X posts, Taer would describe the moment that migrants managed to break a barrier in El Paso just in front of the border wall.

Jennie Tear makes an X post about the chaotic conditions at the El Paso border.

Source: Jennie Tear/X

“This is the moment when TX National Guard became overrun by migrants rioting to get across the border here in El Paso today. We were there and saw it all happen. Absolute chaos here.”

Concertina Wire

Mexican photojournalist J. Omar Ornelas put out an X post documenting the crossing from the other side of the border.

Concertina wire set up to ward off people trying to cross into the border.

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Wikimedia

“Hundreds of migrants were pushed south of the concertina wire in the middle of the night by Texas National Guard. Hours later they again breached the concertina and made a rush for the border wall in El Paso, Texas. #Border #Texas,” Ornelas’s post said.

Razor Wire in El Paso

The razor wire barriers in El Paso protect walls that can reach as high as 30 feet in this crossing area. Texas started installing these barriers on a larger scale after its launch of Operation Loan Star in 2021.

A close up shot of razor wire.

Source: Антон Дмитриев/Unsplash

Although razor wire can be easily circumvented with the right tools, border security relies on razor wire to slow down migrant groups, giving them time to coordinate a response to a big push.

Dispute Between Texas and the Federal Government

In January, a dispute between Texas Governor Greg Abbot and the Biden administration escalated over the increased crossings in recent months. One part of the dispute was the use of razor wire, which the administration ordered dismantled.

The flag of Texas flying in the sun.

Source: Adam Thomas/Unsplash

This dispute turned into a standoff where federal border agents were not allowed by the state attorney general to access crossing points in the Rio Grande.


Texas Senate Bill 4

Texas recently introduced a law called SB 4 that would have allowed police to arrest people directly who were illegally crossing the southern border. A federal appeals court blocked the law from going into effect on the grounds that it violates the constitutional authority of the federal government.

The U.S. Supreme Court building seen in the daytime underneath a cloudy blue sky.

Source: Adam Michael Szuscik/Unsplash

This legal step towards controlling immigration is ongoing and may need to be resolved by the US Supreme Court.


Injuries Common at El Paso

The El Paso crossing has become a popular one for migrants hoping to gain entry into the US. In response, Texas has erected high walls to dissuade migrants from trying to make a crossing attempt.

An x-ray showing a broking bone near the neck.

Source: Harlie Raethal/Unsplash

However, this seems to not have stopped migrants from trying. Local doctors report that migrants consistently injure themselves dropping down from the tall walls which can result in extreme injuries.


Rhetorical Chaos

Some place the blame for the chaos on the US government. The county commissioner for El Paso’s Precinct 2 for nearly 10 years is David Stout. In past comments to Newsweek, Stout framed the “chaos” narrative as the fault of Texas government leadership, not the migrants.

A road running near the American-Mexico border wall.

Alejandro Cartagena/Unsplash

“They want to create chaos,” Stout said. “They don’t want to see the issues that we’re facing here on the border. They want there to be chaos so that it will play into their rhetoric that there is chaos on the border.”


US Migrant Crisis

This incident between border patrol and migrants is just the latest being witnessed as a result of an influx of crossings that some are calling the “US Migrant Crisis.”

Three children walking through a migrant camp.

Julie Ricard/Unsplash

In February, Pew Research said that migrant encounters reached a historic high at the end of 2023 with more than 250,000 migrant encounters recorded by US Border Patrol in December.


Election Context

Another event happening in the background of this incident is the 2024 US elections in November. This year’s election features a fierce contest between hopeful presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump, who have each made it a priority to address border concerns.

A close-up of a phone that is open to the 2020 presidential election race and its Electoral College count.

Source: Clay Banks/Unsplash

Both presidential candidates even went to the Texas border on the same day to give separate speeches in late February.


More Incidents Possible

As the election draws closer, it’s likely that more videos of these incidents will be released. Both political parties are motivated to blame the other for the problems at America’s southern border and will work to frame from their perspective to the American public.

Migrant workers moving about in a camp.

Source: Julie Ricard/Unsplash

A Pew Research survey in February found that a 78% majority of Americans think the current migrant crossings are a “crisis” or a “major problem.”