Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1543281347

Migrant caravan: Mexico calls for 'full investigation' into use of tear gas as Trump defends action

Almost 100 Central American migrants have been deported

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 26 November 2018 01:11 GMT
Migrants enveloped in tear gas after heading toward US

A day after the US shutdown a port of entry on its southwestern border and shot tear gas and pepper spray into crowds of migrants to stop them from crossing illegally, Donald Trump has said Mexico should deport them back to their home countries.

Many of the approximately 5,000 migrants camped out in Tijuana, Mexico, are attempting to enter the US through the San Ysidro port near San Diego, California, in order to apply for asylum. US border agents are approving approximately 100 applications per day but tensions over the slow pace came to a head over the weekend.

Mr Trump - who also defended the use of tear gas - tweeted: "Mexico should move the flag-waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!"

Later, Mexico's foreign ministry presented a diplomatic note to the US government calling for "a full investigation" into what it described as non-lethal weapons directed towards Mexican territory on Sunday, a statement from the ministry said.

The decision on Sunday to use tear gas among crowds that contained a large number of women and children, was condemned by high-profile Democrats. Beto O’Rourke, who narrowly failed in his bid for a senate seat in Texas, said it should “tell us something about her home country that a mother is willing to travel 2,000 miles with her four-month old son to come here”.

“Should tell us something about our country that we only respond to this desperate need once she is at our border,” he wrote online. “So far, in this administration, that response has included taking kids from their parents, locking them up in cages, and now tear gassing them at the border.”

New York congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez likened the Central American migrants to Jewish families fleeing Nazi Germany, declaring that applying for refugee status should not be considered a crime. Meanwhile, Gavin Newsom, recently elected as governor of California, from where the CBP agents fired the tear gas, tweeted a widely shared Reuters photograph of a woman with two young children running from a gas canister.

“These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas,” Mr Newsom wrote. “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."

If you want to see how developments unfolded read below

Please allow a moment for the liveblog to load


Welcome to our live blog as we keep track of what is going on at the US-Mexico border as several thousand migrants attempt to enter the US as well as Donald Trump's reactions to it. Stay tuned for all of our coverage. 

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 16:07

There are approximately 5,000 migrants who are fleeing rampant gang violence and poverty in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, who are part of the so-called migrant caravan which is now camped out in a sport complex in Tijuana, Mexico

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 16:14

Many of those migrants are attempting to apply for asylum as they enter the US, but US border agents have only been able to process approximately 100 applications a day. 

Tensions over the wait bubbled over this past weekend as a peaceful march to ask for expedited processing turned into chaos as tear gas and pepper spray filled the air. 

Read more here: 

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 16:18

Meanwhile, Mr Trump has taken to Twitter, ready to go after the Thanksgiving break. 

He tweeted Mexico should deport all the migrants in their country hoping to seek asylum in the US back to their home countries. 

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 16:34

The administration is still pushing for a nearly 2,000-mile wall running along Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California in order to stem illegal immigration. Mr Trump had, for two years while on the campaign trail and in the White House, repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for the large infrastructure project, but has backed down on that claim of late. 

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 16:37

In a sign of compliance with US demands, Mexico has agreed to begin deportations of the migrants who "violently and illegally" tried to cross the US border at San Ysidro over the weekend. 

At least 500 individuals will be deported back to the countries they fled. 

Read more here: 

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 16:42

Mr Trump's supporters have defended the use of the tear gas and pepper spray, even on the children being carried by parents to cross the border. One former border patrol official said the pepper spray is "natural" "safe enough to put on nachos and eat". 

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 16:58

Rodney Scott, the chief US Border Patrol agent in San Diego, California, said on 42 people have thus far been arrested by US authorities.

He also told CNN the tensions over the slow progress of processing asylum applications was because the vast majority of the 5,000 or so people at the Tijuana-San Ysidro border are economic migrants who would not qualify for asylum. 

He did not say what evidence he has to be able to make the claim, which essentially attempts to decouple the rampant gang violence in Central America from the grinding poverty many in the region face. 

He also claimed there were only a few women and children at this particular border crossing. 

"What I saw on the border yesterday was not people walking up to Border Patrol agents and asking to claim asylum," Mr Scott said.

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 17:04

Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted the tear gas and pepper spray were used because "projectiles thrown by caravan members" hit border agents. 

It was not immediately clear whether those throwing objects at U.S. agents were part of the caravan, MSNBC reported.​​

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 17:13

Many Americans have been arguing the merits of using tear gas on the migrants, particularly since the border at San Ysidro-Tijuana already has a physical barrier and the migrants are civilians. 

"Tear gassing families seems unnecessary," Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, said. 

Others said it was justified as the hordes rushed the border barrier, had 'assaulted' border agents, and say the migrants do not qualify for asylum. 

However, there is one point most have agreed - US immigration law reform needs to happen soon. 

Mythili Sampathkumar26 November 2018 17:23

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in