Mexico calls for investigation into use of tear gas on border

Mexico's top diplomat is asking the U.S. government to investigate clashes at the Tijuana-San Diego border on Jan. 1 and the use of tear gas by border officials.

Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard on Thursday requested "an exhaustive investigation of the events that occurred that day, as well as the events of November 25th in that same area," in a diplomatic note to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

In incidents on Nov. 25, 2018, and Jan. 1, 2019, U.S. border agents deployed crowd control measures including tear gas, pepper spray and plastic pellets to deter migrants from crossing the border.

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Officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defended the actions as necessary.

"Once again we have had a violent mob of migrants attempt to enter the United States illegally by attacking our agents with projectiles. As has happened before — in this and previous administrations — our personnel used the minimum force necessary to defend themselves, defend our border, and restore order," said Katie Waldman, a DHS spokeswoman.

But an AP photographer at the scene reported that migrants only threw rocks after the tear gas was deployed.

The Mexican Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) did not say whether it would specifically investigate the timing of the tear gas, but it called DHS to a meeting of the Border Violence Prevention Council, a bilateral high-level group designed to prevent violent incidents along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Mexico reiterated its commitment to safeguard the human rights and the security of all migrant persons. The government of Mexico will maintain its focus on cooperation to attend the migratory phenomenon in a bilateral way, attending to its causes and recognizing it is a shared responsibility," read SRE's statement.