Customs and Border Protection Officers scheduled a ‘crowd control exercise’ at the U.S. – Mexico Border in Chihuahuita and then abruptly canceled the event without explanation on Election Day.
Border Patrol officers with the public affairs office were sent to notify the media, which had gathered at the meeting point on Calleros Court and Santa Fe Street early Tuesday morning. The event was scheduled last minute by CBP Monday evening stating that the crowd control exercise would begin at the railroad crossing west of the Paso Del Norte Bridge at 10 a.m. on Election Day.
The area where the demonstration was slated to be held is in the heart of the Chihuahuita neighborhood in South El Paso. The neighborhood is a historically poor, Hispanic community that winds along the Rio Grande River.
Residents of the neighborhood are assigned to vote at the Armijo Recreation Center, 700 East 7th Street, about a mile to the east of the demonstration. If residents were to walk to the polls, they would have to walk through the area of the CBP exercise.
Many voting rights advocacy groups including ACLU Texas and MALDEF raised immediate concerns that the exercise may have been purposefully scheduled for election day in an effort to intimidate and suppress voters from going to the polls.
Prior to official cancellation, armored units, horseback riders and other mobile units were driving on the street near Calleros Court.
After moving to a secured area behind the railroad tracks, Border Patrol officers emerged to notify the small gaggle of waiting reporters that the event was called off.
When directly asked by the Herald Post why the exercise was canceled at the last minute, public affairs officers said they were not given a reason. When pressed as to whether the pushback regarding the event falling on election day resulted in the last minute cancellation, he indicated it could be a fair assumption.
The exercise has not been rescheduled.
CBP has canceled this morning’s “crowd control exercise.”
Posted by El Paso Herald-Post on Tuesday, November 6, 2018