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Migrants indicted in US over alleged border breach

EL PASO (AP) – A Texas, United States (US) grand jury indicted more than 140 migrants on misdemeanour rioting charges on Tuesday over an alleged mass attempt to breach the US-Mexico border, a day after a judge threw out the cases.

No injuries were reported during the alleged breach on April 12 in El Paso, which authorities said began when someone in the group cut through a razor wire barrier. Mass arrests also followed a separate episode in the Texas border city in March.

On Monday, a county judge had thrown out the charges against those who were arrested this month, ruling there was insufficient probable cause. A public defender representing the migrants had argued there was not enough evidence and accused authorities of trying to make headlines.

“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,” El Paso County District Attorney Bill Hicks told reporters on Tuesday.

Kelli Childress-Diaz, the El Paso Public Defender who is representing the 141 defendants, said she wasn’t surprised.

“I imagine they had that already prepared before the hearing even started yesterday,” she said.

The arrests have drawn more attention to Texas’ expanding operations along the border, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott has rolled out a series of aggressive measures in the name of curbing illegal crossings. Following the arrests in March, Abbott responded by saying he sent 700 additional National Guard members to El Paso.

Texas National Guard members watch migrants after beaching barriers set up on the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas, United States. PHOTO: AP