In what human rights groups condemned as a “cruel and inhumane” act that must be independently investigated, agents with President Donald Trump’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Tuesday reportedly hit women, children, and journalists near the U.S.-Mexico border with tear gas, smoke, and pepper spray.
“Using tear gas against men, women, and children seeking protection is cruel and inhumane. There needs to be a thorough and independent investigation into the reported use of tear gas and other agents.”
—Justin Mazzola, Amnesty International
According to an Associated Press photographer present at the scene, CBP agents fired “at least three volleys of gas” into Mexico at around 150 asylum-seekers who approached the border in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Contradicting CBP’s claim that the tear gas was used to deter migrants who were throwing rocks over the border fence, the AP photographer said rocks were thrown “only after U.S. agents fired the tear gas.”
In a statement Tuesday night, Justin Mazzola, deputy director of research at Amnesty International, said CBP’s actions should be viewed as part of the Trump administration’s sweeping anti-immigrant agenda.
“Using tear gas against men, women, and children seeking protection is cruel and inhumane,” Mazzola declared. “There needs to be a thorough and independent investigation into the reported use of tear gas and other agents in this incident. However, this incident needs to be examined within the broader context of US policies at the border.”
“The Trump administration is defying international law and orchestrating a crisis by deliberately turning asylum-seekers away from ports of entry, endangering families who see no choice but to take desperate measures in their search for protection,” he continued. “These dangerous policies must end immediately. The U.S. must welcome people safely into the country while their asylum claims are reviewed.”