United States authorities fire tear gas across border to repel Central Americans

Cheryl Sanders
January 3, 2019

Several of the migrants said they planned to approach peacefully, but had grown frustrated and confused by the USA immigration and asylum-seeking processes.

But the Associated Press reports rocks were only thrown after agents fired tear gas, and a Reuters witness says one migrant was struck by what seemed to be a tear gas canister. That was the first time the tear gas had been used against these folks, some of those iconic images, moms fleeing with their kids in diapers away from the tear gas.

In Tuesday's incident, 25 migrants were arrested while the others crawled under a hole in the fence back into Mexico, according to CBP.

Trump was making his case for $5.6 billion from Congress for a wall at the border and vowing that the partial government shutdown now in its 12th day will last "as long as it takes" to get the money.

The AP is disputing the claim that the use of tear gas was precipitated by rock throwers, saying the gas was sacked first.

Tuesday's confrontation showed that "people tried to charge the border and couldn't", Trump said at a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

Those calls have been met with resistance on Capitol Hill, where Democrats say they won't approve any increase in funding for the president's border wall, and say the people attempting to force their way into the USA are refugees fleeing violence back home in Central America, and should be given a chance at asylum.

Several teenagers, wrapped in heavy jackets, blankets and rubber mats, were also put over the concertina wire.

US Customs and Border Protection said in a statement the gas was not aimed at the migrants climbing the fence.

Border Patrol agents witnessed members of the group attempt to lift toddler sized children up and over the concertina wire and having difficulty accomplishing the task in a safe manner.

The migrants in both cases were part of a caravan that left Central America in October and traveled 4,300 kilometers (2,600 miles) to Tijuana in the hope of reaching the USA and requesting asylum.

US authorities also had a helicopter flying over the scene during the incident so presumably the government has video that could show what was happening on both sides. According to CBP, its personnel have used tear gas 126 times since fiscal year 2012, including more than 60 times under the Obama administration. Others have found jobs in Mexico and tried to settle there. The deployments were not directed at the migrants attempting entry on the USA side or at the fence line. Since then officers have been trained to use less lethal methods such as batons, pepper spray and tear gas.

He said Mexico advocated "respect for migrants' human rights, security and integrity, while calling for respect for laws on both sides of the border".

Other reports by iNewsToday