TIJUANA, MEXICO — Mimicking Israel’s tools of repression, United States troops deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border used aggressive force against thousands of unarmed migrants seeking asylum from U.S.-stoked violence in their home countries.
This appears to be only the beginning, as thousands of more migrants are on the way while Pentagon officials say troops are expected to stay through January.
On Sunday, U.S. troops stationed at the San Ysidro Land Port border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego fired tear gas at approaching men, women, and children as they attempted to seek asylum in the United States.
One photo of a mother and her two children fleeing clouds of teargas went viral over the weekend, leading to outrage on social media.
— NDTV (@ndtv) November 27, 2018
Another woman, a 26-year-old mother, was impaled after she attempted to climb a border fence and fell.
Tear gas is technically classified as a chemical weapon and banned from use in warfare by the Geneva Protocol. However, while unethical, it is generally legal for private police and other entities to use tear gas against non-combatant civilians. For example, police and National Guard troops used tear gas against indigenous people defending Standing Rock two years ago.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection mimicked the very excuses used by Israeli forces while attacking unarmed civilians in Gaza, claiming that the migrants had thrown stones at them.
— Press TV (@PressTV) November 27, 2018
In Tijuana refugees from Central America were violently attacked by US border police. Politicians and TV pundits defended teargassing refugee families. Some even enjoyed it. #TrumpsAmerica #MigrantCaravan pic.twitter.com/mLBDGiRyIE
— redfish (@redfishstream) November 27, 2018
Last month, one teen was killed by a tear gas canister and 24 others were injured after Israeli forces shot tear gas and live ammunition at protesters.
U.S. President Donald Trump quickly defended the troops’ use of tear gas and aggressive force. “Here’s the bottom line: Nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally,” Trump said to supporters in Mississippi.
In order to apply and be processed for asylum, a person must first be present on U.S. soil, although a new policy being considered would force asylum applicants to wait outside the U.S. in Mexico indefinitely while their applications were being processed.
Although this incident has sparked outrage for the right reasons, using aggressive force and tear gas against approaching Latin American migrants is not without precedent. In 2010, a teenager was shot and killed for throwing a stone, the second death within two weeks at the time.
As the migrant caravan traveled through Mexico and Guatemala, Washington prepared by sending 5,900 active-duty Army troops and 2,100 National Guard personnel to various locations along the U.S.-Mexico border in October.
Fleeing to the U.S. from U.S.-wrought trouble
A group of Honduran migrants, elected to speak on behalf of the larger group, released a statement on Tuesday highlighting the urgency of their need for asylum:
It has not been easy to leave our countries, to leave part of our family behind, to expose our children and to walk through unknown places in order to have a chance to live in the United States or other countries that can give us an opportunity to work an honest job and offer a better future to our children. We want them to have access to education, healthcare and a life without threats.”
The statement further says that the migrants will face violence or death if they return to their home countries, and ends with a request for accelerated processing as well as an end to the arbitrary deportations.
Much of the violence the migrants are fleeing was directly manufactured or encouraged by the United States in some fashion. In Honduras, for example, in 2009 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton oversaw a coup and encouraged the ousting of the left-leaning former president, Manuel Zelaya. The violence against vulnerable groups and oppression against protestors has continued ever since.
Although the troops were originally slated to leave on December 15, a Pentagon official speaking to NPR said that the troops would remain at their posts at least through January, raising the specter of an indefinite deployment and mission creep.
Top Photo | Migrants run from tear gas launched by U.S. agents, amid photojournalists covering the Mexico-U.S. border at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 25, 2018. Rodrigo Abd | AP