Border agents fired tear gas into a crowd on yesterday (January 1) morning in an attempt to deter migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, from crossing the border into the Unites States, Reuters reports.
Katie Waldman, a spokesperson for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, called the group “a violent mob” and claimed people threw projectiles at agents who responded with “the minimum force necessary to defend themselves.” Reuters could not confirm this report. In fact, a Reuters witness didn’t see any migrants throwing items at agents.
Clouds of tear gas, which can cause severe eye pain, respiratory and skin irritation, bleeding and even blindness, could be seen in the air around the border fence. The news outlet says one person was able to grab a canister of the chemical weapon and throw it back into U.S. territory.
A similar incident took place in November 2018 when Customs and Border Protection temporarily closed the port of entry at San Ysidro and launched the dangerous gas at Central American families seeking asylum. That attack led to an investigation from the Mexican government and disapproval from all over the world.
Reuters reports that more than 150 migrants gathered in Tijuana in the Playas neighborhood near the beach late on Monday (January 31), with many under the impression that security would be less rigid because of the holiday. The crowd faced tear gas shortly after midnight when members of the group tried to climb a border fence.
Mexico foreign ministry spokesperson Roberto Velasco told Reuters that the government “regrets the events” at the border, adding that Mexico “advocates respect for migrants’ human rights, security and integrity, while calling for respect for laws on both sides of the border.”