Texas lawmen point guns, threaten to arrest migrants south of border wall

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Tension between members of the Texas military and migrants coming across illegally from Mexico boiled over for a second consecutive day at the border wall in El Paso.

On Friday, members of the Texas Army National Guard informed migrants over loudspeakers they were about to replace torn-down concertina wire along the banks of the Rio Grande and threatened to arrest those who did not return to Mexico.

“Attention: We will begin installing razor wire in this area. For your safety, we need you to return to Mexico. If you damage the wire or try to cross, you will be arrested,” a booming voice said in Spanish.

Soldiers carrying bulletproof shields advanced in a column toward a group of migrants trying to pull down the razor wire a few feet from the river. Mexican news reports said members of Texas law enforcement earlier had fired non-lethal projectiles – presumably bean bags or rubber bullets – at migrants threatening to tear down the wire.

Altercation between migrants, National Guard caught on camera

Border Report reached out to the Texas Military Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety for comment and is awaiting a response.

Friday’s altercation comes on the wings of Thursday’s viral videos documenting how a group of about 500 migrants tore down the Texas wire barrier and forced their way through several guardsmen. Some members of the Guard could be seen subduing at least one migrant, with women shouting for them to stop.

Migrant gate rush in El Paso highlights friction between federal, Texas border enforcement

While on Thursday the migrants clearly outnumbered Texas guard personnel, on Friday the odds seemed about even.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted the state would continue to protect its citizens from “disastrous” open-border federal policies.

“More razor wire installed, and more Texas National Guard soldiers deployed in El Paso today. We continue to redouble and reinforce our efforts. Texas will keep taking historic action to protect our state – and our nation,” Abbott said.

The governor added that Texas DPS has been instructed to arrest unauthorized migrants who are caught trespassing or destroying public property. The state has done this through Operation Lone Star for over two years. The state Legislature earlier expanded arrest powers over migrants to include allowing local police officers to arrest undocumented migrants, though a federal circuit court has put that on pause.

‘Do Not Be Afraid’: Hundreds march in solidarity with migrants, protest of SB4

El Paso civil rights activist Carlos Marentes on Friday condemned what he sees as an escalation in violence against individuals from other countries who have a right to seek asylum in the United States.

Members of the Texas Army National Guard advance in riot formation on a group of migrants south of the border wall in El Paso, Texas, on Friday, March 22, 2014.

"It is regrettable that Gov. Abbott is using soldiers not to assist the population during a natural disaster, but against people looking for the promise of a better life," Marentes said. "He is also defying the federal authority on immigration. The courts have put SB4 on hold, but he doesn't care. We have been taught the Constitution is the law of the land, but he doesn't care, he sees Texas as his kingdom."

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SB4 is a state law passed earlier this year allowing local law enforcement to question and arrest undocumented migrants. The federal government is suing to stop its implementation, alleging it is illegal.

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