US agents fire tear gas at 'violent mob' near Mexico border

US agents fire tear gas at 'violent mob' near Mexico border

US agents fire tear gas at 'violent mob' near Mexico border

Tear gas thrown by Border Protection officers on the San Diego, Calif. side of the U.S. -Mexico border causes migrants to disperse on the Tijuana, Mexico side of the border on January 1, 2019.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the Associated Press that the tear gas was used to stop rock throwers on the Mexico side of the border.

US Customs and Border Protection says in a statement that the gas was aimed at rock throwers on the Mexican side who prevented agents from helping children who were being passed over the concertina wire.

Most of the migrants returned to Mexico through a hole under the fence and by climbing back over the fence.

Al Jazeera's Manuel Rapelo, reporting from Tijuana, said central American asylum seekers were preparing to jump the wall. Agents were unable to assist the children because of flying rocks, so they responded to the rock throwers with smoke, pepper spray and tear gas, the agency said. "Border Patrol agents witnessed members of the group attempt to lift toddler-sized children up and over the concertina wire and having difficulty accomplishing the task in a safe manner", CBP said.

Tuesday's use of tear gas comes a little more than a month after a similar incident along the border near Tijuana.

A previous incident in November when United States agents fired gas into Mexico to disperse migrants triggered a call from Mexico for an investigation. It has been a constant target of President Donald Trump, who referred to it frequently in the run-up to US mid-term elections in November. After they were blocked one group grew more combative, firing rocks over the border to try to hit agents.

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Agents "used the minimum force necessary", Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. Twenty-five people were arrested, including two teenagers who attempted to cross, according to CBP.

Numerous migrants are waiting in Tijuana for a chance to apply for asylum in the United States, but there was a backlog before the caravan's arrival and the wait is expected to be many months.

They arrived here in Tijuana in early November and today about 1,500 still remain.

Mitt Romney, the Republican former governor of MA and 2012 GOP presidential nominee, will be sworn in as the junior senator from Utah on Thursday, and he is beginning his new job with a Washington Post op-ed calling President Trump a failed leader.

"Congress needs to fully fund the border wall", Waldman said in a statement.

An impasse with legislators over funding for his border wall project is behind a partial shutdown of U.S. government services which is now in its second week.

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