Displaying 30+ Stories
Allow Ads

Video Shows Migrants Being Arrested Outside El Paso Church Shelter Before Biden Visit

Venezuelan migrants pray at the camping site outside the Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
Venezuelan migrants pray at the camping site outside the Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

President Joe Biden encountered no migrants during his highly controlled, four-hour visit to El Paso, Texas on Sunday, according to several media outlets. 

Before the president's visit, there had been reports of large numbers of migrants sleeping in city streets. According to a new report, one large group of migrants who had been sleeping outside next to a shelter and a bus station were rounded up and arrested prior to Biden's visit.

NBC News reports the migrants were arrested by Customs and Border Protection officers and El Paso city police in the week before the president's trip. 

The law enforcement officials began arresting migrants Tuesday night, who were sleeping in the streets outside the Sacred Heart Catholic Church shelter and bus station, according to a new video obtained by the outlet. 

In the videos shot by a volunteer at the shelter, border agents are seen driving up the streets in vans with flashing lights, then jostling tents to awaken sleeping occupants. 

The volunteer told NBC News that approximately 100 to 150 migrants were arrested in the sweep. Later that same week, more migrants sleeping near the bus station were also detained. 

In one video described by the outlet, migrants huddle around a man praying loudly: "Cover us, Father! In the name of Jesus, sir. They are people, sir, who are looking for your salvation, sir. They come looking for a better future, sir. We respect the laws, sir …Father, you have the power to protect us."

Hundreds of migrants gathered outside the church on Sunday. Many have continued to sleep outdoors and are receiving three meals a day from faith groups and other humanitarian groups.

The migrants included several pregnant women, including Karla Sainz, 26, eight months along. She was traveling in a small group that included her 2-year-old son, Joshua. Sainz left her three other children back home in Venezuela with her mother.
"I would ask President Biden to help me with a permission or something so we can work and continue," she said.
Juan Tovar, 32, one of several people in her group, said he also was seeking asylum, citing political reasons for leaving his home country.

"Socialism is the worst," he said. "In Venezuela, they kill us, they torture us, we can't talk bad about the government. We are worse off than in Cuba."

In a statement, Customs and Border Protection in El Paso said the arrests were in response to migrants evading apprehension in the El Paso area. 

"CBP, which is responsible for securing the U.S. border between ports of entry, uses a layered approach that includes patrolling the border itself, nearby areas and neighborhoods, and conducting checkpoints," a spokesman for the agency in El Paso said. "In response to migrants evading apprehension in the El Paso area, the United States Border Patrol has increased the number of agents patrolling the area."

The number of migrants crossing the border into El Paso reached record highs in recent months – up to 2,500 a day. But the number of border-crossers has since declined, according to the Border Patrol. 

As the numbers grew, the Sacred Heart Church's shelter reached capacity and it had to start turning people away. Even though the city has opened more housing for migrants, many have continued to sleep outside the church and by the bus station. 

A Border Patrol official told NBC News those who were arrested had not been previously apprehended by Border Patrol when they crossed over from Juarez, Mexico. They were taken to El Paso's processing center for migrants, where they spent the night. From there they were either sent back to Mexico under Title 42, the COVID-19 restriction still in place, or given a date to appear in an immigration court in the U.S. 

Immigration advocates said the arrests may be in violation of the Department of Homeland Security's guidance. In October 2021, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sent a memo to the heads of all DHS agencies, in part reminding them that places like houses of worship and courthouses are places where undocumented immigrants should not be arrested. 

He noted that areas in proximity to those safe places may also be considered protected.

As CBN News reported Thursday, Biden has now announced a decision to crack down on the massive surge of illegal crossings. His new policy has upset many Democrats and human rights activists. It will allow up to 30,000 migrants each month from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Venezuela to legally apply for asylum while expelling migrants from those four countries who cross illegally. 

The number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has risen dramatically during Biden's first two years in office. Last year alone, authorities report there were more than 2.38 million stops at the border, with El Paso being one of the busiest entry points. That's the first time the number has ever topped 2 million. 

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

Did you know?

God is everywhere—even in the news. That’s why we view every news story through the lens of faith. We are committed to delivering quality independent Christian journalism you can trust. But it takes a lot of hard work, time, and money to do what we do. Help us continue to be a voice for truth in the media by supporting CBN News for as little as $1.