Old Mexican bridge crossing video misrepresented online

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Social media users are claiming a video shows migrants rushing toward the southern US border days before the May 11, 2023 expiration of pandemic-era immigration restrictions. This is false; the clip was filmed nearly two months earlier and depicts people returning to Mexico after they were unable to enter the United States.

"This is Juarez right now," says a May 8, 2023 tweet sharing the video, which accumulated more than 780,000 views. "Coming to a City near you."

Screenshot from Twitter taken May 11, 2023

Similar posts -- including several describing the footage as an "invasion" or claiming it shows a rush of migrants approaching the United States -- spread across Twitter and other platforms, amplified by accounts that have previously shared misinformation about the border.

"The border three days before invasion is set to begin… this is Juárez today," says one tweet from "@amuse," an account that has promoted false claims about immigration and other topics.

"ProudArmyBrat," another account that has shared misrepresented visuals from the border, added: "Happening right now in dangerous Juarez, Mexico. Destination —> El Paso."

Screenshot from Twitter taken May 11, 2023
Screenshot from Twitter taken May 11, 2023

 

 

The posts came ahead of the May 11 expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era program former president Donald Trump introduced to swiftly expel people trying to enter the United States.

The Pentagon has sent troops to the border in anticipation of a surge in migrants seeking to cross over from Mexico. El Paso and other border cities in the US state of Texas have declared states of emergency ahead of the rule change.

But the video shared online is almost two months old and shows migrants returning to Mexico, not entering the United States.

The footage stems from a March 14, 2023 TikTok post (archived here) with a Spanish-language caption indicating it was captured at a border port in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso. The video received more than 1.6 million views.

Using Google Maps Street View imagery (archived here), AFP geolocated the clip to the Mexican side of the Paso del Norte bridge. The direction of the stream of people indicates they are moving into Juarez.

Screenshot from TikTok taken May 10, 2023, with elements outlined by AFP
Screenshot from Google Maps Street View taken May 10, 2023, with elements outlined by AFP

 

 

Roger Maier, a spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), told AFP the video dates to March 12, 2023 and depicts "people returning to Mexico after they were unable to enter the US at the international boundary after seeing rumors on social media that the border would be open to any migrant that day."

AFP reported at the time that the crowd of mainly Venezuelans numbered in the hundreds, some of whom said they believed they would be allowed entry because of a supposed "day of the migrant" celebration.

The people quickly encountered barbed wire, orange barricades and police with shields. The bridge was closed for a few hours before reopening.

AFP captured footage of the incident.

Migrants, mostly of Venezuelan origin, attempt to cross into the United States at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on March 12, 2023 ( AFP / HERIKA MARTINEZ)

"What we saw were large groups of people gathered on the Mexican side of the port of entry, went to the top of the bridge and came back down," Laura Cruz-Acosta, El Paso's strategic communications director, told AFP in an email.

"No breach occurred. Mexican authorities broke up the groups."

The Paso del Norte bridge is a popular border checkpoint, serving pedestrians legally traveling in both directions each day.

Maier said the bridge processes about 8,000 northbound cars and 8,000 northbound pedestrians daily, adding that there is no southbound car traffic and that CBP does not tally southbound pedestrian figures.

The Mexican government offers livestreams of both sides of the crossing. AFP has also captured footage of the scene at the US-Mexico border ahead of Title 42's end.

AFP has previously debunked misrepresented border images here, here and here.

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