Illegal migrants hide at middle school to evade Border Patrol, prompting lockdown and sparking safety concerns

A middle school in New Mexico was forced to implement lockdown measures multiple times in recent weeks after groups of illegal migrants entered campus while attempting to find a place to hide from Border Patrol agents, KFOX reported.

Refugio Corrales, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection’s El Paso sector, stated that illegal migrants are wandering onto Gadsden Independent School District property while attempting to avoid arrest.

“The Santa Teresa Middle School is one of the areas where these migrants jump into without thinking of where they’re going through because they’re trying to evade arrest,” Corrales explained.

According to the CBP agent, the department has ramped up officer presence during school hours to provide additional security.

The El Paso Border Patrol sector stated that six migrants were apprehended outside of the middle school by Border Patrol agents on March 27.

“Agents were able to locate the individuals after being advised by another law enforcement agency on site. The Santa Teresa Middle School was temporarily placed on a secure status as a precautionary measure when they observed our agents and other law enforcement in the school’s proximity,” CBP remarked.

“It is common for Border Patrol Agents to receive calls from the community in the Sunland Park, NM area, especially those impacted by migrants who often conceal themselves inside of properties,” CBP’s statement continued. “This is due to the proximity of the border and as such, many migrants attempt to evade arrest from the U.S. Border Patrol. Agents are always mindful of the safety and wellbeing of not only migrants but the public at large, especially in and around schools in this area.”

Two Sunland Park officers stayed on campus for the remainder of the school day.

According to Gadsden ISD Superintendent Travis Dempsey, groups of migrants have wandered onto the school’s property twice within a one-week period, KFOX reported.

“It is concerning and it does at some level interrupt our educational process when we do things of this nature,” Dempsey noted.

He added that the school uses security cameras to monitor for migrant crossings.

During the initial incident, which occurred on March 20, the middle school was instructed to “get inside and lock outside doors,” according to the district, KTSM reported.

The school district thanked the Border Patrol agents and Sunland Park Police Department for their “swift and professional response to this situation.”

Parent Maria Gallegos told KFOX, “We’re a little nervous because with the fear and nerves migrants have of being caught by immigration officials, we don’t know if they’d do something to our students.”

Lorenzo Gandara, a grandparent of a student, told the news outlet that the border crisis is out of control.

“It’s really bad because we’re with the concern that something could happen to the kids,” Gandara said.

KFOX reported that the middle school has a resource officer on campus. If migrants are observed on school property, the police officer immediately reports them to Border Patrol.

In fiscal year 2023, the El Paso sector experienced more than 427,000 recorded migrant encounters, according to CBP data. From October 2023 through February 2024, there were more than 119,000 encounters.

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​Migrant crisis, New mexico, Illegal migrants, Customs and border protection, Cbp, El paso, Refugio corrales, Sunland park, Gadsden isd, Travis dempsey, News 

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