In a Monday night Facebook post, the Department of Homeland Security claimed it was necessary to fire tear gas at migrants who approached the southern border on Sunday.
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the "violence we saw at the border was entirely predictable," referring to reports that Central American migrants who reached the San Ysidro port of entry to apply for asylum in the U.S. had thrown rocks at law enforcement after becoming frustrated that they were not able to plead their cases. "Officers can be seriously or fatally injured in such attacks," said Nielsen, though no officials were injured during the incident. Border Patrol fired tear gas into Mexico "to dispel the group" and closed the port.
"It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as 'human shields' when they confront law enforcement," claimed Nielsen. Images of children affected by tear gas provoked outrage, especially among Democrats who said the Trump administration's handling of the migrant caravan had gone too far.
President Trump also defended the gassing, telling reporters that Border Patrol agents "had to" use tear gas "because they were being rushed by some very tough people." He also said agents had only used a "very minor form" of tear gas, calling it "very safe" and claiming the children affected were only there because "grabbers" were pretending to be their parents to attain a "certain status."
Migrants were denied entry and remain in Mexico. Nielsen concluded her statement by saying the administration is continuing "to prepare for the next assault." Summer Meza
The migrant caravan is starting to collect at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, and local aide groups are struggling to keep up.
Hundreds of Central American migrants seeking entry in the U.S. continued to gather Friday at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing near San Diego, with a small group settling within 500 feet of the border, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. That puts the total number of migrants in the city at 6,219, prompting Tijuana's mayor to declare a humanitarian crisis on Thursday.
Most of the migrants fled their home country of Honduras to escape devastating poverty and violence, hoping to claim asylum in America. But they've faced similar conditions as they settle in Tijuana and wait to cross the border, camping out "in muddy and cramped conditions at an open-air sports arena turned into a makeshift shelter," the Union-Tribune writes.
Tijuana's mayor had begged Mexico's federal government for resources to feed and shelter the migrants, but said Thursday the government has "categorically omitted and not complied with their legal obligations," per USA Today. The mayor has refused to spend city money to shelter the migrants, and is instead asking international humanitarian groups to step in.
President Trump responded to the swelling throngs on Thursday, telling reporters he had authorized troops deployed to the border to use lethal force, per Reuters. He also repeated a warning that he could close the border entirely, which would likely just prompt an even larger buildup in Tijuana. Kathryn Krawczyk