Amnesty International and other human rights groups are firing back after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) fired tear gas at asylum seeks near the U.S.-Mexico border, reportedly hitting women, children, and journalists.
According to a statement released by the CBP, tear gas was used on Tuesday to target rock throwers that were separate from the migrants attempting to cross the border near San Diego, California.
“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.
However, according to an Associated Press photographer that was present at the scene, at least three volleys of gas were launched onto the Mexican side of the border that affected the 150 migrants gathered there, including women and children, as well as journalists. The photographer also said that the rocks were thrown only after U.S. agents fired the tear gas.
Justin Mazzola, deputy director of research at Amnesty International, believes that the CBP’s actions are a direct result of the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant agenda:
“Using tear gas against men, women, and children seeking protection is cruel and inhumane. There needs to be a thorough and independent investigation into the reported use of tear gas and other agents in this incident. However, this incident needs to be examined within the broader context of US policies at the border.
The Trump administration is defying international law and orchestrating a crisis by deliberately turning asylum-seekers away from ports of entry, endangering families who see no choice but to take desperate measures in their search for protection. These dangerous policies must end immediately. The U.S. must welcome people safely into the country while their asylum claims are reviewed.”
One official from the CBP described the migrants as “a violent mob,” yet a witness for Reuters documented in one photo where a migrant has been hit by what appeared to be a gas canister and another witness said they didn’t see any migrants throwing rocks at all.
This is the second time in the last two months that the CBP has used tear gas against asylum seekers. In November, CBP agents also fired tear gas across the U.S.-Mexico border, forcing men, women, and children to flee.
The US welcomed 2019 by firing tear gas across an international border into a crowd including women, children, & journalists. https://t.co/H7XrCOzv4n
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) January 2, 2019