In the early hours of 2019, refugee migrants were attacked by tear gas once again at the U.S./Mexico border. What led to the tear gas attack, however, doesn’t completely add up. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) report that they fired the tear gas only after they were first attacked by people throwing rocks.
“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,” a statement by the CBP said, according to the Associated Press. However, reporters from the AP that witnessed the attack say otherwise.
“An Associated Press photographer saw at least three volleys of gas launched onto the Mexican side of the border near Tijuana’s beach that affected the migrants, including women and children, as well as journalists. The AP saw rocks thrown only after U.S. agents fired the tear gas.”
The New York Times reports that the CBP attempted to stop 150 migrants from crossing the border. Some of those that attempted to cross include a person crossing over with a child. Once the CBP began launching tear gas many of those people fled back to Mexico, while at least 25 were detained.
The AP also reports that these migrants attempting to cross are from the caravan group that arrived in Mexico in October. This latest incident of tear gas comes more than two months after CBP first fired tear gas at a group of about 500 people. That incident happened in broad daylight, which included several images of children running away from the toxic gas. Those images quickly spread on the internet to much uproar over the tactics by the CBP.
While the use of tear gas may seem shocking and cruel, Andrew Meehan, spokesperson for the CBP say the use of tear gas is relatively common, even before the Trump Administration, and is actually being used less.
“The use of those types of nonlethals is fairly common in law enforcement organizations,”Meehan said to the New York Times, “but the number of uses of force for C.B.P. has been historically down year over year, in large part because of the way we review and improve our policies.”