CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — El Paso beefed up its border security Tuesday with the arrival of 400 Texas National Guard troops, as the future of Title 42 remains unclear and the city prepares for an even greater influx of migrants.
The troops, flanked by sand-colored armored Humvees and wielding automatic weapons, proved a formidable presence on the US side of the border with Mexico.
The armed guardsmen quickly went to work on their first day of deployment, strengthening border crossing deterrents along the Rio Grande with barbed wire coils — much to the ire of migrants on the other side of the river, who are hoping to cross into the US.
“Put those weapons away,” Reynaldo Jose Casu Calle, 34, yelled from the Mexico side at the soldiers.
Standing amid piles of rubbish near the bridge that connects the two countries, he shouted across the expanse of water: “We are all just human beings. Let us cross the border.”
Casu Calle, a mechanic from Venezuela, told The Post he has been stuck on the Mexican side of the border for two weeks and has been living on the streets of Ciudad Juárez.
“There are too many people in the shelter,” he said. Casu Calle left his wife and three children, ages 6, 7 and 9, back in Venezuela, where he said “there is no future for any of us.
“There is no gas, no water, no freedom,” he said. He hopes to eventually go to Canada, but doesn’t know how he’ll get there.
“Only Jesus can help me now,” he said.
Despite the barbed wire and armed guards, a Cuban migrant named Mercedes tried to cross the river Tuesday and get into the US.
She approached a group of soldiers, filming them with her cell phone and begging them to allow her to cross into the country where she said she has a son — but she was ordered to turn around.
She waded back through the polluted, icy water up to her thigh and was escorted by a man back to the Mexican side.
Juarez resident Raul Henriquez Garcia, 59, sat watching the moment while smoking a cigarette.
“It’s like a war right now,” he said, adding this was the first time he had seen the US military mass at the border with armored Humvees and automatic weapons.
An El Paso official said in an official release the troops were from the Texas Military Department and Department of Public Safety and performing a “training exercise” and not connected to the city’s migrant response.
The scene Tuesday was a stark departure from the previous happenings at the El Paso border, where just MSNBC reported migrants “just walked right in” on Monday.
“Officials have ramped up processing, but we were even able to see as of last night, a lot of migrants just crossing,” correspondent Julia Ainsley said, “and migrants I spoke to this morning said they haven’t had any interaction with US immigration authorities. They just walked right in.”
Fox News also reported Tuesday it had seen evidence the government had lost track of 150,000 migrants in 2021, after releasing migrants into the US without processing them properly.
If Title 42 — which allows border officials to automatically refuse entry to migrants to stop the spread of COVID-19 — is ended, some 20,000 migrants are poised to cross the border almost immediately, the El Paso mayor said Monday.