President Donald Trump yesterday used several different arguments in defending the use of tear gas at the Mexican border. First he claimed that the tear gas was “very safe,” then blamed the migrants with children for being in the way of the tear gas, and finally he said that the children were not even theirs.
The use of tear gas to repel a crowd of migrants that included rock-throwers but also barefoot, crying children was widely criticized and condemned. Universally critics of the president denounced the border agents’ actions, saying they were unnecessary, but Trump stuck to his hard line.
“They were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas,” Trump said about Sunday’s border clashes. “Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally.”
In his comments on Monday Trump did acknowledge that children were affected, but he asked, “Why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed and they were running up with a child?”
“I say, why are they there?” Trump added. “First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe. The ones that were suffering to a certain extent were the people that were putting it out there, but it’s very safe.”
With no evidence he also said that some of the women who were tear gassed were not really parents but were what he called “grabbers.” These are people who steal children so they have a better chance of being granted asylum in the United States.
In his remarks Trump portrayed the migrants as a serious threat to U.S. national security. He believes he is protecting the country from people trying to exploit America’s asylum laws.
Many other people, however, believe that he is exaggerating the threats posed by immigrants in order to stoke fears among the electorate and achieve his political goals.
Trump claims the migrant caravans are dangerous groups of mostly single men. Members of his administration have said that 500 members of the caravan are criminals, but have provided no details on why they believe that to be true. On Monday, Trump tweeted that the caravan at the border included “stone cold criminals.”
Mario Figueroa — Tijuana’s social services department director — said as of Friday that of the 4,938 staying there, 933 were women, 889 were children and 3,105 were men, which includes fathers traveling with families.
Democratic lawmakers and immigrant rights groups blasted the border agents’ Sunday tactics.
“These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas,” California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom tweeted. “Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America.”
These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas.
Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear.
That’s not my America. We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom.
And we will not stand for this. https://t.co/1APpeHIq6v
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 26, 2018
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.