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Caravan tear gassed by U.S. border patrol

by Margaret Stewart - Copy Editor
Wed, Dec 5th 2018 05:00 pm
Border war The migrant caravan was met by the United States border patrol this past week at the U.S-Mexico border. The border patrol then proceeded to throw tear gas at the caravan attempting to enter the United States.
Border war The migrant caravan was met by the United States border patrol this past week at the U.S-Mexico border. The border patrol then proceeded to throw tear gas at the caravan attempting to enter the United States.

Following the Thanksgiving holiday, the American public learned that while they were eating turkey and spending time with family, the United States tear gassed the migrant families that made it to the American-Mexican border.

Migrants rushed the border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, attempting to cross into the US, causing the one of the largest border crossings, located in San Diego, to close on Sunday, Nov. 25. As people continued to push at the border, the United States Border Patrol agents fired tear gas into the crowd.

According to CNN, “about 500 migrants on the Mexican side of the border overwhelmed police blockades near the San Ysidro Port of Entry Sunday afternoon.”

In interview with the Associated Press, Zungia, a migrant who was at the border with Valery, her 3 year-old daughter, explained, “We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more.”

In an attempt to justify the gassing of families, the US Customs and Border Protection claim that the migrants were throwing projectiles, striking agents. According to their Twitter, "Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents' safety.”

The legality of the agents’ use of force is being called into question. Geoff Gilbert, a British professor of international human rights and humanitarian law at the University of Essex, explained in an interview with the New York Times, “that while all countries have the right to control who comes into their territory, ‘that doesn’t give authorities in the United States the right to fire tear gas into another country.’”

Calling upon Article 2 in the United Nations Charter, Gilbert says that the article explains that members of the United Nations “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity” of other members.

Therefore, had the migrants actually managed to cross the border into the United States and then presented themselves as a threat, the actions of the border patrol agents would not be under scrutiny. However, as the agents shot the cannisters across the border, into Mexico, the actions become less legally viable.

These arguments and conversations are not new. In 2015, there was a similar discussion as Hungary tear gassed refugees who were seeking asylum and sent the canisters across the border in to Serbia.

Additionally, according to data shared by Customs and Border Protection, this is not the first time that American border protection officials have resorted to utilizing tear gas. Since 2012, the US has fired tear gas near the southern border at least 126 times.

In response, Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said its officers were simply reacting to individuals who were throwing the projectiles at the agents and cited that four officers had received minor injuries.

While the American public has made sure to speak out, either for or against the migrant caravan, Tijuana is calling upon the Mexican Government and reaching out for international assistance as the issue persists.