The Trump administration has been facing criticism this week after U.S. Border Patrol Agents used tear gas against a group of Mexican migrants rushing the border on Sunday.
The incident took place at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, which is between Tijuana and San Diego. Over 5,000 Central American migrants have arrived in Tijuana in the past few weeks, seeking asylum in the U.S.
The clash began Sunday morning when a group of about 500 protesters marched towards the border, and encountered a blockade of Mexican police officers.
The migrants attempted to rush the border, some clashing directly with police while others attempted to run around the blockade. Tear gas was used to disperse the group. Customs and Border Protection then shut down the border for a few hours.
President Trump defended the actions on Monday, stating “They were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas. Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally.”
Facing backlash for using the gas against women and children, Trump countered that it was “a very minor form of the tear gas itself” that he assured was “very safe.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection also justified the decision to use tear gas, stating on Twitter, “Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas to dispel the group because of the risk to agents’ safety.” Agents say the migrants were throwing rocks as they attempted to breach the barrier.
U.S. officials say they made 42 arrests during the confrontation, and Mexican officials made 39.
Trump has since threatened to shut down the border completely.