By MaryAnn Martinez
Drug cartels are besieging the border by deliberately sending thousands of migrants a day to hand themselves over to Border Patrol officers in different US border towns, sources revealed to The Post.
The tactic is meant to tie up already overworked border agents so Mexico’s cartels can carry on their drug and human smuggling operations undisturbed in less populated areas, law enforcement officials explained.
A migrant group of 2,200 people turned themselves over to officers in Eagle Pass, Texas, Monday morning, according to Fox News, which showed video of the migrants lined up in blocks to be processed by the Border Patrol.
Nearly 500 miles away in the westernmost tip of the state, El Paso has also been seeing migrant surges in the last week.
Sources there said on Thursday alone, some 1,700 migrants were encountered in a 24-hour period, and every day since, multiple groups of migrants numbering in the hundreds have lined up along the border wall to surrender to officers and claim asylum in the US.
The mass give-ups are being fueled by cartel lies including about the Biden administration’s CBP One app to schedule immigration appointments, multiple law enforcement sources told The Post.
“They’re circulating false information that anyone waiting for a CBP One appointment can turn themselves in and get asylum,” one source revealed.
Up to 500 mostly Venezuelan asylum seekers lined up at El Paso Monday to cross into the US, according to local TV station KVIA.
The mix of single adults and families had crossed the border illegally but are hoping to stay in the US while their asylum cases are heard, a process which usually takes years.
“CBP is aware of reports that criminal organizations in the El Paso, Texas/Juarez, Mexico areas are spreading falsehoods and putting migrants’ lives at risk for their own financial gain,” US Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, told The Post in a statement.
“These rumors are absolutely false and yet another dangerous example of bad actors sharing bad information. The border is not open to illegal migration.”
City data showed over 4,000 people were in Border Patrol custody in the city on Monday.
“The way it’s being orchestrated through the cartels, I believe it’s meant to overwhelm the system. The [places] that are being impacted the most are border communities,” former El Paso City Councilmember Claudia Rodriquez told The Post.
Border Patrol agents are already getting help from cargo inspection agents who have been pulled from their regular duties to help deal with the waves of migrants, US Customs and Border Protection said.
The explosion of migrants arriving in El Paso also triggered the opening of an emergency migrant shelter at a recreational center.
On Friday, city leaders were reluctant to commit to opening the shelter, instead opting to put up hundreds of migrants released by CBP in hotel rooms.
Across the entire southwest border, as many 9,400 migrants have crossed into the US in a single 24-hour period. That almost matches the record-setting week in May just before the government changed the rules for migrants crossing into the US, which saw over 10,000 people flood into the country per day.
Migrants have also been spotted walking along busy roads and highways, while others are working to gather enough money to buy plane or bus tickets out of town.
“The other day I saw one child, maybe 10 and 12, trying to sell bottled water, candy on the street,” Rodriguez said.
“That’s not normal in El Paso. We don’t see children working or begging for money. That’s like Third World country kind of stuff.”
Cartels unleashed turmoil on the city before, stirring up rumors of the border being open to all back in March and again in April, prompting hundreds of migrants to storm one of El Paso’s international bridges.
“If you’re at the border, go this morning,” a social media screenshot of the rumor said. “Don’t miss this opportunity.”
Aid workers previously told The Post how migrants are particularly susceptible to tricks orchestrated by the cartel, as most are in a vulnerable position and in unfamiliar territory.
“A lot of the folks that are waiting in Juarez [across the border from El Paso] are very desperate, and they’ll believe anything,” Crystal Sandoval of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center said in March.