The mob of migrants who attempted to storm the US border in El Paso, Texas on Monday was led by an artist and activist and was a stunt gone wrong – leading to his arrest.
Roberto Marquez, a US citizen from Dallas, told the Post that he organized the rally of migrants who stormed officers waving giant Venezuelan and Honduran flags, as well as an American flag with “We the migrants , built America” sewn on.
The situation turned violent after a Border Patrol agent was attacked with a flag pole and another was hit by a rock.
Border Patrol agents responded to the crowds using “less lethal crowd control measures” such as firing pepper balls.
Brandon Judd, president of the Border Patrol union, told the Post that it was unusual to see a seemingly spontaneous uprising.
“This kind of organized effort doesn’t normally come from people coming from another country and going to seek asylum,” he said.
The migrants who rushed to the border were mostly Venezuelan asylum seekers who had already crossed the international border and had been deported to Mexico under a recent mandate from President Biden.
Venezuelans interviewed by Bordereport.com and El Diario said the activist asked them to cross the river and cross the border.
Deported migrants crowded on the Mexican side of the border, erecting a tent city as they waited for another chance to enter the United States. Photos taken by a Post photographer on Thursday show how the encampment is growing, with often destitute and desperate new people joining the crowds daily.
Marquez’s son confirmed to the Post on Friday that he was arrested and that his mother helped get him released. El Paso jail records show Marquez was charged with failing to report to a port of entry for inspection and released on Friday.
The other man arrested, a Venezuelan national who has not been identified, will face charges of entry without inspection – which could see him expelled from the United States and barred from re-entering.
A video posted by Marquez shows him and another man presenting an American flag to Border Patrol agents before the confrontation between migrants and Border Patrol agents began.
Marquez’s Instagram profile shows how he trained stranded Venezuelans to help him make the large American flag used at the protest.
The attention-loving entertainer’s social media account is filled with coverage he’s received heading to crisis zones, like Hurricane Ian and the war in Ukraine – where he recently said he’s helped locals to pull their loved ones out of shallow graves.
It’s unclear what consequences Marquez’s latest stunt will have on the Venezuelans who took part. Although most have returned to Mexico, they could be identified by border cameras and punished if they attempt to cross into the United States again.
On Oct. 13, the Biden administration applied Title 42 — a pandemic measure to quickly deport immigrants from the United States for health reasons — to Venezuelans, if they entered the country illegally at the southern border.
Since then, around 1,800 Venezuelans have been sent back to Mexico, ending up penniless in Juárez, the Mexican sister city of El Paso.
That number is dwarfed by the total number of Venezuelans – 189,000 – who crossed the southern border into the United States in fiscal year 2022 – as people fled the country’s ailing economy and unstable political system.