Trump administration opens 2019 with tear gas attack on migrants at US-Mexico border
3 January 2019
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents began the new year early Tuesday with a barrage of tear gas, smoke bombs, pepper spray and plastic pellets fired at a group of migrants, including children, trying to cross from Mexico to apply for asylum in the United States at the border between Tijuana and San Ysidro.
Shortly after, the nearby border crossing at Otay Mesa was closed in a show of force by a phalanx of border agents dressed in full riot gear and armed with shields. Hundreds of immigrants are waiting at the crossing to file their asylum claims.
According to the Associated Press (AP), border agents fired three volleys of gas at the group of approximately 150 people in Mexico as they sought to cross a border fence near the Playas neighborhood in northwest Tijuana.
Women, children and journalists were all hit by the gas, resulting in severe eye pain and choking. Children were reportedly being passed through concertina wire in a desperate effort to reach the US. The CBP reported that it detained 25 people during the assault, while others were able to escape back into Mexico through a hole in the fence.
Photos and video of the assault evoke scenes from the Gaza Strip, where Israeli soldiers routinely fire tear gas and live rounds at Palestinians who approach Israel’s border fence.
The CBP released a statement shortly after the incident insisting that tear gas was fired only after migrants threw rocks at heavily armored border agents and that no immigrants waiting at the border were impacted: “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…