CBP chief defends use of tear gas at border during 'difficult situation'

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the use of tear gas at the U.S.-Mexico border last month was in line with agency regulations.

Border agents fired tear gas at a group of migrants trying to cross the border near Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 25, an incident that involved some migrants rushing the fence along the border. Images later emerged of women and young children fleeing the gas, drawing criticism from congressional Democrats and others regarding how CBP handled the situation.

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McAleenan said Tuesday that CBP agents faced a “difficult situation” and that migrants “were assaultive in their behavior” by throwing “rocks at agents.” McAleenan previously said no serious injuries were sustained, but on Tuesday he testified that one agent had to have surgery as a result of injuries from the rocks.

He added that the women and children seen in the widely circulated pictures were “absolutely not” targeted by CBP agents and that an internal review is being conducted.

The Trump administration has taken a particularly hard-line stance against Central American migrants waiting near the southern U.S. border, many of whom are seeking asylum in the United States.

The White House has tried to force migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their requests are processed. It has also tried to prohibit immigrants in the U.S. illegally from filing for asylum, though those efforts have faced pushback in federal courts.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE sent thousands of U.S. troops to the border, many of whom will soon be withdrawing. On Tuesday he vowed to go through with a partial government shutdown if he does not get $5 billion from Congress for a border wall.