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US Customs And Border Protection Has Used Tear Gas In 126 Incidents Since 2012

Migrants run from tear gas launched by U.S. agents, amid photojournalists cov...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Migrants run from tear gas launched by U.S. agents, amid photojournalists covering the Mexico-U.S. border, after a group of migrants got past Mexican police at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.

US Customs And Border Protection Has Used Tear Gas In 126 Incidents Since 2012

GUESTS:

Priya Sridhar, reporter, KPBS News

Transcript

U.S. Customs and Border Protection defended its use of tear gas on hundreds of migrants in Tijuana on Sunday, an action that was also defended Tuesday by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

"Law enforcement officials have used an appropriate use of force to protect themselves and prevent an illegal rush across the border," Sanders said at a press briefing.

CBP said the chemical was used as a response to assaults on federal officers and agents and to defuse a dangerous situation.

In a statement, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said there were no reported serious injuries on either side of the border.

Photo credit: Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A graphic depicting U.S. Customs and Border Protection use of tear gas between the years 2012-2018.

Photo credit: Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A graphic depicting U.S. Customs and Border Protection use of pepper spray between the years 2012-2018.

"When you think the attack is not going to stop and obviously when it’s a bigger crowd, that’s when you’re able to deploy whatever tools are at your disposal," said Art Del Cueto with the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union representing CBP agents.

In new information obtained by KPBS Tuesday, the agency says it's been using tear gas since 2010. According to the data, tear gas was used 79 times during Barack Obama's second term. It has used the chemical 29 times this past year, the highest yearly rate since 2012.

Del Cueto says CBP personnel have to respond to potential threats on a case by case basis, evaluating how potentially violent or threatening the group they're confronting is.

This past year, there have been 403 incidents where CBP personnel have been assaulted and they have used force, including potentially firearms, in 471 incidents. Overall the use of force involving firearms by CBP has dropped over the years from a high of 55 incidents in fiscal year 2012 to a low of 17 in fiscal year 2017.

The agency also released data on the use of pepper spray. That substance was used 540 times over a six-year period, with the highest rate of use in 2013.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection defended its use of tear gas on hundreds of migrants in Tijuana on Sunday.

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