The United States Border Patrol used tear gas on New Year’s Day to stop about 150 illegal immigrants from entering the country from Tijuana.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that they used tear gas after some migrants began throwing rocks, according to the Associated Press.
“No agents witnessed any of the migrants at the fence line, including children, experiencing effects of the chemical agents, which were targeted at the rock throwers further away,” the statement said. (RELATED: Another Central American Migrant Caravan Is Forming But It’s Reportedly Not Headed For The US)
The AP is disputing the claim that the use of tear gas was precipitated by rock throwers, saying the gas was fired first. The media agency further says that border agents fired three volleys of the gas as well as plastic pellets and pepper spray. It maintains that women, children and journalists experienced the effects of the relatively mild chemical agent.
The Border Patrol used tear gas against a storm of illegal immigrants Nov. 25, prompting criticism from some Democrats, including one senator who suggested the chemical deterrent violated international law. However, records show that former President Barack Obama used tear gas against border violations more than President Donald Trump has.
Border Protection said adults were attempting to move “toddler-sized children” across the border through the barbed wire but that hurled rocks prevented the agents from helping the children in distress. After the skirmish, the Border Protection agents detained 25 illegal immigrants while the remainder withdrew back to Mexico after finding a gap in the fence. (RELATED: Migrant Caravan Demand: Give Us Each $50,000 Or Let Us In)
The illegal immigrants who spoke to AP said they were part of the migrant caravan that arrived at Tijuana last month.
Border Protection told AP that its Office of Professional Responsibility will be assessing the incident to see if the amount of force used was justified.
The breaching of the fence comes just as President Trump remains deadlocked with congressional Democrats over funding for the border wall, from which a partial government shutdown remains in effect. The Democrats steadfastly refuse to include $5 billion for the wall in a funding bill before Congress and have actually introduced legislation to have Mexico pay for the wall — something that Trump suggested would occur when he campaigned for president in 2016.