Texas grand jury indicts 140 migrants on rioting charges day after judge dismisses cases

A Texas grand jury “essentially overruled” a county judge on Tuesday and indicted more than 140 migrants on misdemeanor rioting charges a day after a judge dismissed the cases.

On April 12, an alleged “riot” broke out at the U.S. border with Mexico when a swarm of migrants cut through concertina wire and scaled the chain link fence near Gate 36 in El Paso, Texas.

(Video: YouTube)

“County Court at Law 7 Judge Ruben Morales dismissed the 140 cases during a hearing Monday, April 22, after ruling Texas Department of Public Safety state troopers failed to provide probable cause for the mass arrest,” the El Paso Times reported Monday.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to arrest and harass,” El Paso County Public Defender Kelli Childress argued during the hearing.

Judge Morales agreed.

“After reviewing the affidavit, I don’t believe that (probable cause) exists,” he stated. “I don’t believe there is probable cause for these individuals to continue to be detained for the offense of riot participation.”

While all 140 migrants were released from state custody, they still faced federal charges of illegal entry into the U.S. and were turned over to federal custody.

On Tuesday, each case was presented to a grand jury, according to El Paso’s District Attorney Bill Hicks.

“The citizens of El Paso, through the grand jury, essentially overruled the judge’s ruling and found probable cause to believe that the riots did occur,” Hicks told reporters.

“Immigration cases are not the purview, not the emphasis of the district attorney’s office and it is not what law enforcement is here to combat,” he explained. “What law enforcement and what the district attorney’s office are concerned about is the violation of law.”

(Video: YouTube)

“If people believe that they can come to our country knocking down barriers, endangering lives, causing our National Guardsmen to fear for their lives, having to back away, and to have that kind of mentality just so they can get up to a particular gate, they can’t do that,” he said.

“If they want to come and take a legal process and try to approach our country in a legal way and go through immigration channels, that’s fine,” Hicks stressed. “We have no concern regarding that.”

“But to approach our country, to tear down walls, to endanger people’s lives,” he continued. “We’ve got to take a stand, and it doesn’t matter an individual’s legal status. If U.S. citizens were involved in this, they too would be charged with rioting. The charge of ‘riot’ has nothing to do with an individual’s legal standing. It is a charge specific to the actions of the people involved, and we will charge anyone who is involved in the destruction of property … we will charge that every single time in order to protect life, to protect property, and to protect our National Guardsmen and our troopers who are on the line.”

On X, Texas Governor Greg Abbott praised the grand jury: “Excellent work by the grand jury to overrule the judge’s lenience.”

Melissa Fine

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