EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – An American citizen and a Venezuelan national are facing federal charges in connection with Monday’s border incursion near Downtown El Paso.
The incident, which is under review by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility, involved the Border Patrol firing pepper balls at a crowd that came across the Rio Grande, allegedly injured an agent with a rock and attacked others with a flagpole.
“On October 31, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested two individuals involved in the incident that occurred along the Rio Grande near Downtown El Paso. One individual, a U.S. citizen, will face charges of failure to report to a port of entry for inspection, and the other, a Venezuelan national, will face charges of entry without inspection,” the Border Patrol said in a statement Wednesday.
Both individuals were booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility on Tuesday pending prosecution, the agency said.
The Border Patrol did not name either individual. The statement was in response to a Border Report inquiry regarding a protest-gone-wrong near a camp on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande where some 500 Venezuelans are staying. The Venezuelans arrived in Juarez, Mexico, shortly after an Oct. 12 policy change by the White House that made asylum-seekers from that Venezuelan country who come into the U.S. illegally amenable to Title 42 expulsions.
Venezuelans interviewed on Tuesday told Border Report the protest involving a large U.S. flag with a political message sewn in where the stars should be, and the flags of Venezuela and Honduras, took an unexpected turn when a “Mexican” activist told the demonstrators to cross the river into the U.S. A Juarez newspaper identified the activist as a Mexican-American artist from Texas.
A search of El Paso County Jail records revealed that a Roberto Lujano/Roberto Marquez was booked there on Tuesday under the federal charge. The jail records also show that he had yet to be released as of Wednesday.
The Venezuelans at the camp blamed an unidentified Honduran national for the rock attack on the border agent. Thousands of migrants from Latin America and elsewhere remain in Juarez waiting for a change to petition for U.S. asylum or cross the border by alternate means.
U.S. federal statutes require American citizens and legal residents re-entering the country by foot to present themselves at border crossings designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Violations – i.e., coming across the Rio Grande or scaling the border fence — include a $5,000 fine for a first offense, or criminal penalties.
Foreigners charged with entry without inspection face fines and jail time of no more than six months for the first offense, or fines and confinement of up to two years for subsequent offenses.
Federal officials did not say if the U.S. citizen remained in custody on Wednesday.