Updated: Feb 28, 2019
A march at the U.S.-Mexico border escalated to chaos and tear gas.
By Meg Taylor, News Editor
United States authorities closed off the busiest port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday and fired tear gas at hundreds of immigrants including members of a Central American migrant caravan and children.
What started out as a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims erupted into chaos. Hundreds of migrants then attempted to breach barriers at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing. Border patrol agents reported that a few people threw rocks at their agents, they chose to respond with tear gas and rubber bullets.
“They were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas,” said President Donald Trump. “Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally.”
United States Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the administration’s concerns about the caravan “were borne out and on fully display” Sunday. McAleenan continued noting that approximately 1,000 people attempted to rush vehicle lanes at the San Ysidro crossing. Mexican authorities estimated the crowd at 500.
Trump has painted this caravan as an imminent national security threat for months. However, many of these migrants are fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The intended purpose of Sunday’s march was for caravan members to be allowed to seek asylum in the U.S., or to meet with a representative of the U.S. government. The protest reflected the growing desperation and frustration of Tijuana’s waiting asylum seekers.
“As of Friday, that of the 4,938 staying there, 933 were women, 889 were children and 3,105 were men, which includes fathers traveling with families along with single men,” said Mario Figueroa, Tijuana’s social services department director.
Many people are furious with the methods employed by border patrol. Not only do many politicians disagree with Trump’s approval of the methods used to contain Sunday’s event, but they disagree with the way Trump continuously dehumanizes immigrants.
“These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas,” tweeted Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom. “Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America. We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom. And we will not stand for this.”