Trump Administration defends Tear Gassing of Migrants on Mexico Border

Vastavam web: The firing of tear gas canisters by U.S. border agents towards migrants in Mexico near a border crossing last month followed regulations, a senior Trump administration official said in testimony to Congress on Tuesday. A day after the incident, Mexico’s foreign ministry presented a diplomatic note to the U.S. government calling for “a full investigation” into what it described as non-lethal weapons directed towards Mexican territory.

Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees U.S. Border Patrol, said in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the use of tear gas was within the agency’s regulations and came as agents faced a “difficult situation.” The migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border “were assaultive in their behavior, they threw rocks at agents,” McAleenan said, adding that one agent had to have surgery as a result of injuries. McAleenan had earlier said in a statement that four agents were hit with rocks but that they did not suffer serious injuries.

Women and small children were within the group of migrants exposed to the tear gas, and images of them fleeing the approaching gas sparked outrage. McAleenan said women and children were “absolutely not” deliberately targeted by agents firing tear gas canisters. Groups of Central American migrants have sought this year to cross into the United States in large caravans. The Trump administration has made efforts to block their entry, including by sending thousands of troops to the southern border.

In an exchange at the White House with top Democrats on Tuesday, President Donald Trump vowed a government shutdown if his demand for funding a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border is not fulfilled.