U.S. Agents Fire Tear Gas At Migrants Trying To Cross Mexico Border U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities say they fired tear gas to deter about 150 Central American migrants from climbing over or under the U.S.-Mexico border fence into California.
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U.S. Agents Fire Tear Gas At Migrants Trying To Cross Mexico Border

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U.S. Agents Fire Tear Gas At Migrants Trying To Cross Mexico Border

U.S. Agents Fire Tear Gas At Migrants Trying To Cross Mexico Border

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the early hours of the new year, American Border Patrol agents fired tear gas into Mexico. They say they were aiming at about 150 people who were trying to breach the border fence and enter the U.S. NPR's Daniella Cheslow has more.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Coughing).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Speaking Spanish).

DANIELLA CHESLOW, BYLINE: Migrants cough and bend over as they walk through a haze of tear gas in Mexico, near Tijuana. It's dark out in this video from Reuters. And these men, women and children were trying to climb over and under the fence of the U.S. border. They were part of a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants who left Honduras on foot in October.

They say they're fleeing violence and poverty at home. They've been waiting in Mexico ever since for a chance to apply for asylum in the U.S. Some decided to take matters into their own hands and cross illegally. One man pleads with border agents in video aired by NBC News.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Speaking Spanish).

CHESLOW: He says, "I understand, but why not give an opportunity to women and children who need it?" The Department of Homeland Security says the migrants were, quote, "a violent mob" who attacked U.S. agents with projectiles. An Associated Press photographer at the scene says the migrants threw rocks after the tear gas was fired. Twenty-five migrants were detained, and others returned to Mexico. Amnesty International says firing the tear gas was cruel and inhumane and calls for an investigation.

This is the second time American agents have fired tear gas at the migrants. In November, Mexico called for an investigation after U.S. Border Protection officers fired gas across the boundary. Border fortification has paralyzed Washington. Today is the 12th day of a partial government shutdown, after President Trump demanded $5 billion for a wall, and Democrats refused to issue the funding.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to have a wall as part of border security, and we're working on it.

CHESLOW: Democrats take control of the House Thursday and plan to vote on a bill to end the shutdown. They say it will not include funding for the wall. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen toured the border over the weekend. Her visit came after two Guatemalan children died in U.S. custody in December.

Daniella Cheslow, NPR News, Washington.

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