Migrants Near The U.S. Border Shot With Tear Gas


(Photo By: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Safa Hameed

On Monday afternoon at the Mexican-American border, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) fired tear gas at groups of migrants trying to cross the border. CBP cited that the border was becoming overwhelmed as people tried to push through as tensions had already skyrocketed ever since the caravans of migrants began arriving near Tijuana.

These migrants come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala as part of a big caravan of more than 5,000 heading toward the border. Many people are fleeing from gang violence, poverty, LGBTQ discrimination. They are hoping to reunite with family near the border.

It all started on Sunday with a protest led by the migrants as they contested the long time it was taking for their political asylum requests to be processed. According to Mexico’s Interior Minister,  500 were involved in the protest–which is not big compared to the 5,000 at the border itself. Yet, things turned hostile; some migrants tried to climb fences and others started throwing rock and projectiles at CBP which was what prompted them to use tear gas and pepper spray. Rodney Scott, chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector stated that “The group immediately started throwing rocks and debris at our agents, taunting the agents.” Currently, the immigrants are housed in makeshift shelters provided by the Mexican government under the will of President Trump

President Trump has commented on this saying that CBP had to use tear gas because they were “…being rushed by some very tough people,” and that, “nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally.” He also stated that the tear gas was “a very minor form of the tear gas itself” and that it was “very safe”. The CBP have also been questioned as to whether using tear gas is legal or not. The Trump administration has also come under fire from not only politicians, but notable figures because a vast number of women and children were the most affected by all the chaos at the front line. Migrants have stated that it felt like there faces were burning and on fire. Additionally, the effect of chemical agents, such as the one used at the border, is unknown for children.

The question of legality still stand for the course of action taken is being greatly debated. People argue it is legal because it is for riot control, while others argue it’s not because it wasn’t even in U.S. territory. The fact still stands that the Obama administration has also used tear gas. According to The Washington Post, under Obama, tear gas (the same type that was used in this week’s events) was used at least once a month along with  pepper spray at many instances. All in all, it will not change the fact that there are more than 5,000 migrants waiting for what could be years in shelters before the U.S. grants them asylum. Most recently, migrants have fought back with a new hunger strike by refusing to eat unless something is done about their asylum pleads.