The highly politicized so-called “caravan” of Central Americans who the president has used to try to strike fear in the heart of citizens finally reached the U.S. border on Sunday. And, as anticipated, a hostile greeting was awaiting them in the form of aggressive border patrol agents who fired off tear gas at migrants who were being denied their legal right to seek asylum in the United States.
In many instances, the targets of the tear gas were women and children, who were trying to cross into the U.S. from the border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico. News correspondent James Frederick told NPR on Sunday that “lots of families, lots of kids who, although they weren’t close there, have been feeling the effects of tear gas.”
One image from the border going viral was captured by a Reuters photographer and showed a woman at the border, presumably a mother, clutching to two small children, one barefoot, while running away from a smoking tear gas canister nearby.
The horrifying scene seemed to especially resonate with Black leaders in particular, who took to social media to express their disapproval and outrage over how America has decided to treat women and children guilty of nothing more than attempting to seek refuge in a country that pretends to pride itself on being welcoming to all.
The violent confrontation at the border came nearly a week after a federal judge shut down the president’s illegal attempt to change immigration laws that allow people seeking refuge from violence abroad to apply for asylum in the U.S.
“The rule barring asylum for immigrants who enter the country outside a port of entry irreconcilably conflicts with the INA and the expressed intent of Congress,” U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar wrote Monday in his decision to block Trump’s attempt to limit the ability of immigrants to request asylum. “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”
After getting shut down, Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to put the onus on Mexico to stop asylum seekers from entering the U.S.
The messy episode took place about two months before a “Blue wave” of newly elected, progressive Democrats were scheduled to be inaugurated, bringing with them a very pro-immigration agenda that could flex the House’s newfound power on the left.
In a possible indication of just that, New York Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Sunday evening, “Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime.”
Below, we’ve compiled a handful of photos from the border in Tijuana to underscore the humanitarian crisis that U.S. immigration policy has fostered.