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Trump defends 'very safe' tear gas used against migrant women and children: 'They call these people grabbers'

President claims adults stealing kids in attempt to improve US asylum chances

Tom Embury-Dennis
Tuesday 27 November 2018 15:31 GMT
Trump defends use of tear gas

Donald Trump has defended the use of “very safe” tear gas at the US-Mexico border against a group of migrants, including women and children.

Asked by a reporter on Monday how he felt seeing images of women and children running from the chemical weapon, the US president said: “Well I do say why are they there? I mean I have so start off: First of all the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself, it’s very safe.

“The ones that were suffering to a certain extent were the people that were putting it out there, but it’s very safe, but you really say, ‘Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed and they’re running up with a child?'”

Without providing evidence, Mr Trump claimed some adult migrants were taking children who were not their own in order to improve their chances of asylum in the US.

“In some cases you know they’re not the parents,” he said during a press conference in Mississippi. “These are people, they call them ‘grabbers’, they grab a child because they think they’re going to have a certain status by having a child. You know you have certain advantages in terms of our crazy laws.”

Mexico announced it was deporting 98 migrants from Central America after hundreds stormed past a police blockade and a small number tried to breach the border fence with the US over the weekend.

Migrants enveloped in tear gas after heading toward US

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said some migrants threw rocks at agents and they had to use tear gas to drive them back from the border fence.

The move was condemned by Democrats and human rights organisations, while Mexico’s foreign ministry called for a “full investigation” into what is said were non-lethal weapons directed towards its territory.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump told reporters at the White House border agents “had to use” tear gas “because they were being rushed by some very tough people”.

Many of the migrants seeking entry to the US want to escape grinding poverty in their home countries; others wish to avoid staggering levels of violence linked to gangs and drug cartels. Many are motivated by both factors.

US officials, who claimed that as many as 1,000 migrants sought to storm the border – Mexico put the number at around 500 – said the authorities would retain a “robust” presence along the southwest border.

“[The Department of Homeland Security] DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons,” said DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

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