President Donald Trump on Monday denied that federal agents along the US-Mexico border used tear gas on child migrants, but photos and videos show women and children migrants were among those caught up in an incident between border agents and a migrant group that rushed a border crossing Sunday.
At the White House, Trump said that border agents involved in the incident “had to use (force) because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas.”
“Here’s the bottom line, nobody’s coming into our country unless they’re coming legally,” he added. Trump also said the Mexican government “wants to see if they can straighten it out.”
The President later also denied that the tear gas was used against children. However, video and images of the scene also showed a cloud of tear gas that sent people running and screaming, including families with young children.
“Is it OK to use tear gas on children?” a reporter asked.
The President responded, “We didn’t. We don’t use it on children.”
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said, per protocol, the decision to fire was made by agents on the scene using their professional judgment, and also per protocol the incident will be reviewed. He also described CBP as having responded with use of force to primarily adult males throwing rocks.
McAleenan told reporters earlier Monday that as many as 1,000 people that were part of a migrant caravan traveling through Central America and Mexico sought to enter the US illegally.
Closing the border crossings “prevented a dangerous situation from getting worse,” McAleenan said.
He added that according to CBP’s initial report, 69 people were apprehended entering the US. McAleenan said he was not aware of any successful illegal entries by caravan members into the US.