Posted on April 3, 2024

El Paso Judge Orders Release of Migrants Accused of ‘Border Riot’

Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times, March 31, 2024

An El Paso magistrate judge on Easter Sunday ordered the release of migrants accused in a “border riot” when a stampede overwhelmed National Guard troops along the Rio Grande.

Court officials noted that undocumented migrants will stay jailed if there is a federal immigration hold blocking their release.

The Texas Department of Public Safety booked about 220 people on riot charges, of those 39 have been processed to be released to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and remain jailed on immigration detainers, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Presiding Magistrate Judge Humberto Acosta made his ruling on Sunday, March 31, during an online teleconference bond hearing where he accused the El Paso District Attorney’s Office of not being ready to proceed with detention hearings for each defendant. Another hearing for more defendants was expected Monday.


The arrests were made by the Texas Department of Public Safety in connection with a March 21 stampede of asylum-seeking migrants — mostly men from Venezuela — who torn down razor wire along the Rio Grande and rushed the border fence at Border Safety Initiative Marker No. 36 in the Riverside area of El Paso’s Lower Valley.

Some migrants face charges of assault of a public servant for knocking down Texas National Guard troops before order was regained. The migrants had sought to surrender themselves to U.S. Border Patrol in bids for asylum or other immigration relief.


It was unclear if the judge’s ruling applied only to the “riot participation” charge and not to assault and criminal mischief charges related to the chaotic border rush.

Migrants were booked on a charge of “riot participation,” a Class B misdemeanor. Acosta mentioned “hundreds of arrestees” were entitled to individual detention hearings within 48 hours.