U.S. authorities Sunday closed the Southern California border crossing, the busiest port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, as hundreds of migrants rushed the fencing hoping to cross onto U.S. soil from Tijuana. Images from the scene showed women and children among the dozens of migrants fleeing the tear gas, which was fired by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that some of the migrants had “sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.”
The decision to use tear gas sparked broad condemnation from Democrats and others.
“This is wrong,” former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign opponent, said in a Monday afternoon tweet responding to a story about migrants fleeing from tear gas during the unrest.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also denounced the action, tweeting Sunday night: “Shooting tear gas at children is not who we are as Americans.”
In Monday’s brief exchange with reporters, Trump said that Mexico, which has deployed bus loads of police around the migrant encampment, “wants to see if they can get it straightened out.”
“We’ve during certain times, as you know, closed the border. They’re not coming into the United States,” Trump said.
Sarah Kinosian in Tijuana, Mexico, and Joshua Partlow in Mexico City contributed to this report.