Mexico calls on the U.S. to investigate the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against migrants still in Mexican territory while beginning deportations.
Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) has asked authorities in the United States "to conduct a thorough investigation of the events in which non-lethal U.S. weapons were used toward Mexico."
On Sunday hundreds of Central American asylum seekers, including many women and children, protested peacefully in Tijuana near the border with the United States chanting: “We aren’t criminals! We are hard workers.”
As they neared the U.S. border some were stopped by Mexican authorities who temporarily held off the crowd. Shortly after, U.S. border agents shot tear gas into Mexico and U.S. security force helicopters shot rubber bullets at the unarmed asylum seekers while they were still in Mexican territory, preventing them from entering the U.S. San Ysidro port of entry from Tijuana.
In the statement released Monday, the SRE said it “presented a diplomatic note to the Embassy of the United States of America regarding the incidents that occurred on November 25 in the border area of Tijuana—San Diego.” The foreign ministry says it asked U.S. authorities “to conduct a thorough investigation of the events” where U.S. agents used weapons against people while they were still in Mexico.
The SRE said that it is “committed to continuing to protect the human rights and security of migrants at all times.”
The United States is legally obliged to receive asylum seekers onto its soil but, just as it did last May, the Donald Trump administration is doing everything it can to prevent asylum requests from being filed. The president continues to insist that the caravan is made up of “criminals” and has threatened to “shut down” the over 3,000 km border with Mexico until the U.S. can get the scenario “under control.”
The San Ysidro border was closed Sunday for several hours.
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Some 42 members of the Central American Exodus were able to get through the less protected areas of the border fence that has been fortified with barbed wire, barricades, and around 7,000 U.S. troops. They were arrested by U.S. authorities.
The Mexico Institute of Migration began the deportation of 98 asylum seekers, mainly back to Honduras, accusing them of violating migration law and behaving “violently” toward military forces. Meanwhile, Mexican federal judge ruled Monday it was illegal to deport immigrants traveling with children.
The Honduran government also condemned the U.S. use of rubber bullets, "attacking the integrity of Central Americans, who are facing a hostile, difficult and dangerous environment."
Oxfam Latin America said the use of tear gas, which could be felt over 100 meters away, was "embarrassing" for the U.S. government.
"The images of shoeless children choking on tear gas surrounded by U.S. border patrol officials should make us shudder, said Oxfam director Vicki Gass.
The Honduran Foreign Ministry called on Mexico and the United States "to respect human rights (...) based on international law."
An estimated 6-7,000 caravan members still find themselves in limbo at the Tijuana border waiting to enter the U.S. to escape rampant violence, government impunity, and poverty in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.