Border Patrol, migrants clash at border

Border Patrol, migrants clash at border”

USA authorities fired tear gas into Mexico during the first hours of the new year to repel about 150 migrants who tried to breach the border fence in Tijuana.

An Associated Press photographer witnessed at least three volleys of gas launched onto the Mexican side of the border near Tijuana's beach early Tuesday.

Customs and Border Protection, the agency that oversees, the Border Patrol, said the tear gas and pepper spray fired this week were aimed away from the women and children along the border line, and directed specifically at the group of rock-throwers.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman called the group "a violent mob" and said they had thrown projectiles at agents who responded with "the minimum force necessary to defend themselves". Border patrol agents were attempting to catch children who were being passed over the concertina wire.

According to a statement issued by the Customs and Border Protection agency, the migrants attempted to cross into the United States by climbing over and crawling under a small fence along the border between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

The CBP statement said agents had not directly targeted the migrants attempting to cross the fence with tear gas and pepper spray. The agency said teenagers wrapped in jackets, blankets or mats were put over the wire, as were "toddler-sized children".

CNN has reached out to Families Belong Together, an advocacy group that works with migrants at the border, but didn't get an immediate response.

The incident comes a little more than a month after a similar incident in which agents fired tear gas at migrants, igniting anger, debate and concern.

The incident took place on the New Year's Eve, with migrants telling Reuters that they expected security to be lax during the first night of 2019 due to celebrations.

On Nov. 26, Border Patrol agents also launched tear gas into Mexico to repel migrants that had broken away from a peaceful protest and attempted to cross the border illegally. It has been a constant target of U.S. President Donald Trump, who referred to it frequently in the run-up to U.S. mid-term elections in November.

Numerous migrants are waiting in Tijuana for a chance to apply for asylum in the United States, but there was a backlog before the caravan's arrival and the wait is expected to be many months.

CBP said it was investigating the incident after the group attempted to travel into the USA near the border crossing in Tijuana shortly after midnight. It affected the migrants, including women and children, as well as members of the press. Others have found jobs in Mexico and tried to settle there.

"Congress needs to fully fund the border wall", Waldman said in a statement.

Trump refused to back down on his border wall project, despite it being the cause a partial government shutdown that has continued into its 11th day.

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