The US Has Used Tear Gas Against Migrants & Asylum Seekers At The Border, According To Reports
On Sunday afternoon, U.S. agents reportedly fired tear gas at migrants and asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexican border near Tijuana and San Ysidro, California. A reporter from The Associated Press on the scene reported that there were "children screaming and coughing in the mayhem" on the Mexico side of the fence, while people on the American side of the border fence shopped at a local mall. Bustle has reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for comment.
AP Mexico correspondent Chris Sherman tweeted that the wind carried the tear gas even farther. "Breeze carrying it hundreds of yards. Parents running away with choking toddlers," Sherman wrote.
At 12:15 p.m. in California, the AP reported that U.S. Border Patrol helicopters were "low overhead" while the migrants — reported as "mostly" Central American men — attempted to cross the U.S. Mexico border fence near Tijuana. Earlier, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it was suspending "pedestrian crossings at the San Ysidro port of entry" at the east and west entrances. (Vehicle traffic was also suspended at San Ysidro.)
President Donald Trump continued his anti-caravan sentiments on Twitter on Sunday morning. "Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form (it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer). Dems created this problem. No crossings!" Trump tweeted.
San Ysidro is the "Busiest Land Port of Entry in Western Hemisphere" with 70,000 northbound vehicles and 20,000 northbound pedestrians each day, according to the U.S. General Services Administration.
Twenty-three-year-old Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga told the AP that she saw a group of people open up a hole in the barbed wire on the Mexico side of the levee. That's when the tear gas was fired, she told the AP. "We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more," Zuniga told the wire service while she held her 3-year-old daughter Valery.
Wendy Fry, a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune, confirmed the use of tear gas on Twitter. Fry also said that it seemed like Border Patrol agents used a "shot bang" or flash bang, which is commonly used by law enforcement to deter crowds. But Fry later reported that the situation had calmed down after the tear gas.
The group of migrants were a part of the larger group of thousands who traveled nearly 1,000 miles to the U.S. border through Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras in mid-October. The news of thousands of potential asylum seekers and immigrants reaching the southern U.S. border became a sticking point for President Trump as he campaigned hard in the final days of the 2018 midterms. "That's an invasion. I don't care what they say," Trump said at a campaign rally in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to support then-Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn on Nov. 4. "Turn back now because you're not getting in."
Trump reiterated his point at a rally for then-Republican Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp on Nov. 5. "Turn back now because you're not coming into the United States unless you go through the process."