US fires tear gas across the Mexico border to stop migrants

Border Patrol agents pick up last check of 2018, start new year without pay

A group of about 150 migrants attempted to breach a San Diego border fence on New Year's Eve, and some began throwing rocks at responding USA border agents who deployed pepper spray and tear gas on the crowd, authorities said.

Migrants at the scene said they arrived last month with the caravan from Honduras.

"To address the rock throwers assaulting agents and risking the safety of migrants attempting to cross who were already on the US side, both smoke and minimal countermeasures were deployed", the agency added.

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.

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.

CBP said several teenagers were put over the fence's barbed wire in heavy jackets and blankets.

The agency said agents saw "toddler-sized children" being passed over concertina wire with difficulty.

As night fell and people on both sides of the frontier prepared to celebrate New Year´s Eve, the migrants tried to cross over but at least two smoke bombs were fired and they were ultimately held back.

A previous incident in November when US agents fired gas into Mexico to disperse migrants triggered a call from Mexico's government for an investigation, as well as worldwide condemnation.

It added that agents could not assist the children "due to the large number of rocks being thrown at them".

Tijuana has become a flashpoint in the debate over U.S. immigration policy, which has been intensified by the recent deaths of two migrant children in United States custody and a partial USA government shutdown over President Donald Trump's $5 billion demand to lawmakers for a wall along the border with Mexico.

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Katie Waldman accused "a violent mob of migrants" of "attacking" the border patrol force with "projectiles", saying the agents used "the minimum force necessary" to thwart the attack on the border and defend themselves. Many were fleeing gang violence and poverty. Others have found jobs in Mexico and tried to settle there. She called on Congress to act on funding for a border wall, amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, and end the Flores settlement agreement.

Border Patrol agents are beginning to feel the effects of the partial government shutdown.

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