Mexico call on US to investigate use of tear gas at border

Journalists and migrants say women and children were affected by tear gas

Sarah Harvard
New York
Friday 04 January 2019 18:08
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Two days after border agents used tear gas, smoke and pepper spray to block migrants near San Diego from cross into the United States, Mexico is calling on the US to launch an investigation into the conduct of American Border Patrol officers’ conduct on the shared border.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to the US embassy on Thursday about two incidents—January 1, 2019 and November 25, 2018—when US Border Patrol agents sent tear gas into Mexico near Tijuana and San Diego.

The note asked for “a thorough investigation”, and deplored ”the occurrence of any sort of violent act on the border with Mexico”.

In addition, Mexican officials said they will maintain their “commitment to safeguard the human rights and safety of all migrants”. They said they will meet with the US Department of Homeland Security, and the Border Violence Prevention Council, which is a joint American-Mexican body meant to prevent violence at the border, the New York Times reported.

US Customs and Border Protection said on Tuesday that it reviewed all uses of force on the border. On New Year’s Day, American border agents hurled tear gas, pepper spray and smoke into Mexico when 150 migrants tried crossing into the US.

US officials and journalists with the migrants gave conflicting accounts on who were impacted by the incident. CBP claims agents targeted only migrants who were using aggressive force—like those who were allegedly throwing rocks—and that it did not see migrants on the fence line or any children “experiencing effects of the chemical agents”.

The NYT reported that, in November, a migrant family ran away from tear gas on the border in Tijuana.

Fernando Duarte, a 22-year-old Honduran migrant, told the NYT that his small children experienced the effects from tear gas, and that migrants started throwing rocks after border officers unleashed pepper spray and tear gas on them.

“That’s when people got furious and started throwing rocks, and I joined them,” Mr Duarte said. “I was so mad they were throwing that gas when they know there were children with us.”

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The Associated Press also reported that women, children and journalists were affected by the tear gas, and that its journalists saw rocks thrown only after the tear gas was launched.

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