EAGLE PASS, Texas — Texas Department of Public Safety troopers are now charging arrested migrants who cross the Rio Grande with criminal trespass after attempting to breach temporary border walls in the heart of downtown Eagle Pass. As Breitbart Texas watched along the Rio Grande on Friday, one group of migrants was arrested by Highway Patrol troopers from Texas and Florida after managing to move through a stretch of concertina wire.
Breitbart Texas observed the group of six migrants as they emerged from the river and were swiftly taken into custody by the troopers. The group of migrants from Honduras and Venezuela was later featured in a tweet by a Texas Highway Patrol spokesperson who says the group now faces criminal trespass charges. Texas Highway Patrol spokesperson Lt. Chris Olivarez says the enforcement of criminal trespass applies to areas between the two Eagle Pass Ports of Entry known also as Shelby Park.
In the Twitter photo, a recently erected “No Trespassing” sign provides warnings in Spanish and English. The sign featuring large red lettering is clearly visible from the banks of the Rio Grande. The troopers and Army National Guard soldiers were staged at intervals along the riverbank keeping a watchful eye for migrants making the crossing. Operation Lone Star, a Texas-based border security initiative by Governor Greg Abbott, recently received reinforcements from several states including Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, and Tennessee in recent weeks.
The out-of-state resources arriving to assist Texas authorities with border security came in response to an appeal for help sent to state governors by Abbott. On May 16, the Texas governor sent the written request for assistance with border security prompting Idaho, Florida, Nebraska, and Tennessee to respond with additional law enforcement support, Breitbart Texas reported.
The move to prosecute border crossers who circumvent the legal ports of entry in the area means the state will not hand the migrants over to the Border Patrol. Instead, the State will pursue criminal charges in local district or county courts. Texas first began the prosecution program to charge the migrants in July 2021. The authority had not been applied in the heart of the small border town of Eagle Pass until Friday.
A charge of criminal trespass in Texas is considered a Class B misdemeanor and can carry a fine of up to $2,000 or up to 180 days of jail without enhancements. Most migrants charged under the offense plead guilty and are turned over to the Border Patrol to face administrative disposition of their immigration or asylum claims. During an exclusive interview with Governor Abbott in June 2021, the governor explained that under a state of emergency declaration, the penalties for these crimes are increased by one level.
“That means up to 180 days in jail,” Abbott explained. “Something that may be a Class B misdemeanor right now, turned into a Class A misdemeanor. And so they can get into a lot of trouble.”
“There’s even potential for state jail felonies for some of these crimes,” he explained. “So they can wind up in jail for a long time.”
In the first trial case for the state’s prosecution of a migrant for criminal trespass, Lester Hidalgo Aguilar, a Honduran migrant, was convicted by a six-person jury and sentenced to one year in jail by State District Judge Roland Andrade in May 2022.
The new initiative aims to deter migrants from crossing into the downtown area and from circumventing a recently constructed border wall, concertina wire fencing, and a temporary Conex container wall installed by the state. As reported by Breitbart Texas, prior to the state’s enhanced criminal trespass initiative in Eagle Pass, migrants moving over and around the barriers were turned over to the Border Patrol for administrative disposition.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.