Before traveling to Mississippi for two campaign rallies, President Trump defended U.S. Border Patrol authorities for using tear gas to repel a crowd of caravan migrants who rushed toward the border on Sunday afternoon.
Some of the migrants were videotaped throwing projectiles across the port of entry in San Ysidro, Calif., while others apparently tried to breach fencing. Inbound and outbound traffic there was locked down for approximately six hours in response.
“They had to use it; they were being rushed by some very tough people,” Trump said. “And so they used tear gas. Here’s the bottom line: No one’s coming into our country unless they come in legally.”
President Trump added that while it’s still possible to reach a deal with Mexico to keep the migrants there while they pursue asylum claims to enter the US, he is still considering locking down the entire southern border.
“Mexico wants to see if they can get it straightened out, but we’ve during certain times closed the border,” Mr Trump said. They’re not coming into the United States. They will not be coming into our country.”
The situation Sunday was not unprecedented. In 2013, during the Obama administration, Border Patrol agents used pepper spray to fend off a crowd of approximately 100 migrants who attempted to rush the San Ysidro port of entry. The migrants in that episode also reportedly threw rocks and bottles at US authorities.
Trump also defended his administration’s zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting every individual caught crossing the border illegally, which under previously existing law resulted in children being separated from their parents at higher rates than in previous administrations.
Trump signed an executive order this summeraimed at ending separations of legitimate family units caught crossing the border.
“(President) Obama had a separation policy — we all had the same policy. I tried to do it differently. But Obama had a separation policy, but people don’t like to talk about that,” Mr Trump said.