You’ve probably seen the photograph of a migrant mom with her two young children running from a smoking tear-gas canister. It’s a memorable image: “Both children are clad only in T-shirts, and one appears to be wearing a pull-up diaper. One child is barefoot, another wears flip-flops.”
One of the first questions that come to mind looking at the image is why we’re supposed to be afraid of this Honduran family. That, of course, leads to the related question of why U.S. officials fired tear gas at them. Reuters reports that Mexico – the country we fired the tear gas into – would like some answers.
Mexico’s foreign ministry presented a diplomatic note to the U.S. government on Monday calling for “a full investigation” into what it described as non-lethal weapons directed toward Mexican territory on Sunday, a statement from the ministry said.
U.S. authorities shot tear gas canisters toward migrants in Mexico on Sunday near the border crossing separating the Mexican city of Tijuana from San Diego, California, after some of them attempted to cross into the United States.
I’ll be eager to hear the Trump administration’s response, because at this point, the defense for the what transpired at the border needs work.
Donald Trump claimed yesterday, for example, that officials “had to” use the chemical agent, adding hours later, “We had tremendous violence – three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones.”
The president appears to have made that up. As NBC News reported, “That’s false, according to the president’s own administration. The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that there were no injuries during the weekend clashes in which border agents used tear gas against migrants seeking to enter the U.S.”
As the Washington Post reported, Trump added yesterday that some of those who were tear-gassed were “grabbers” who took others’ children to protect themselves, but the evidence to substantiate the claims doesn’t exist.
In the meantime, the White House and its allies have invested quite a bit of time arguing that tear gas is effectively meaningless. The president himself called it “very minor” and “very safe.” (It’s neither minor nor safe, especially for young children.)
In conservative media, one Fox News guest said of pepper spray, “It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.” Conservatives have peddled this line before, and it’s plainly untrue.
As for Mexico’s request for “a full investigation” into Sunday’s incident, we don’t yet know whether the White House will agree to such scrutiny.