U.S. Border Patrol agents fired tear gas into Tijuana, Mexico, during the early hours of the New Year as approximately 150 migrants tried to breach the border fence.
One official characterized the group as a “violent mob,” Reuters reported.
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement on Tuesday, which read in part, “Last night … approximately 150 migrants attempted to illegally enter the United States by climbing over and crawling under border fence in San Diego Sector.
“Due to CBP’s increased presence, a first group of 45 turned back towards Mexico. Shortly thereafter, migrants began throwing rocks over the fence at the CBP agents and officers.”
DHS recounted that agents witnessed some migrants trying to lift toddler-sized children over the concertina wire and were having difficulty doing so safely, but U.S. border officers could not safely intervene due to a large number of rocks being thrown at them.
In order to deal with the rock throwers, CBP deployed tear gas, pepper spray and smoke “upwind of the rock throwers and south of the border fence.”
— ABC News (@ABC) January 2, 2019
DHS emphasized that the countermeasures were not aimed at migrants at the fence line itself, but at the rock throwers south of the fence.
According to DHS, the “countermeasures successfully suppressed the rock throwers causing them to flee the area” and “No agents witnessed any of the migrants at the fence line, including children, experiencing effects of the chemical agents.”
Additionally, most of the migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. returned to Mexico, but 25 apprehensions, including teenage migrants, were made.
The incident comes as President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats are at loggerheads over funding for a border wall, including enhancements to existing fencing and barriers.
Trump wants $5 billion for a border wall or barrier, but incoming House Speaker-apparent Nancy Pelosi has called a wall “immoral” and plans to offer a continuing resolution to fund DHS through Feb. 8. The CR reportedly will provide $1.3 billion for border security, but specifically precludes it from being used for a wall.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday, “The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security – and our Country must finally have a Strong and Secure Southern Border!”
The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security – and our Country must finally have a Strong and Secure Southern Border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2019
In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called Pelosi’s funding plan a “non-starter,” according to Fox News.
The statement said that the plan “does not fund our homeland security or keep American families safe from human trafficking, drugs, and crime.”
Sanders added, “President Trump has made a serious, good-faith offer to Democrats to open the government, address the crisis at our border, and protect all Americans.”
“We have heard nothing from the Democrats, who so far have refused to compromise. Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi released plan that will not re-open the government because it fails to secure the border and puts the needs of other countries above the needs of our own citizens,” the statement said.
U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Roy Villareal told Fox News earlier this week that his officers are being “overwhelmed” due to the numbers in the migrant caravans.
“What we need is a combination of factors: a border infrastructure, roads to provide access to the border, technology, ground sensors, night vision cameras, drones, and of course wall or fencing to secure the border.”
“After 30 years of working in border enforcement, I can attest walls, border fences do work,” he added. “It brings control to the border.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.