Dem senator: Was this tear-gas use at the border a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention?

The point has been made before but it can’t be made enough: Despite what the media would have you believe, Democrats, not Republicans, are the radical party on immigration, particularly in Congress. Even some liberals are beginning to recognize it. Question: When are basic riot-control measures tantamount to war crimes? Answer: When they’re used to enforce the border.

Needless to say to anyone except Schatz, no, tear gas doesn’t violate chemical-weapons treaties. The idea was so deep in left field that he chose to delete it, realizing belatedly how preposterous it made his side look. You want to know why tear gas was used? Here’s why:

Schatz continued to complain on Twitter after deleting the tweet, despite the evidence of rocks being thrown. “Tear gas across the border against unarmed families is a new low.” “WHO GAVE THE ORDER?” “Anyone uncomfortable with spraying tear gas on children is welcome to join the coalition of the moral and the sane. We can argue about other stuff when we’ve got our country back.” What he didn’t do is float any ideas about what the Border Patrol should do when this happens:

Multiple Border Patrol agents were hit by the rocks, the agency claims. Now you’re wondering, “How common is this? Did the BP use weapons like tear gas on immigrants before Trump was sworn in?” Actually, you’re probably not wondering that; of course they did. But Schatz might be wondering. Via Jeryl Bier, the numbers from a story published in 2014:

The Republic analyzed nearly 1,600 CBP use-of-force reports nationwide from 2010 to mid-2012, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. These reports, the most recent CBP has disclosed, showed the vast majority of the time agents responded to rockings with less-lethal weapons and easily dispersed rock throwers without injury to the agents, rock throwers or bystanders in the crowded areas on both sides of the border.

Agents have several less-lethal long-range alternatives. The pepper-ball launching system, essentially a modified paintball gun, can fire more than 10 balls per second filled with pepper spray, letting agents saturate an area up to 60 feet away with irritating vapors. The longer-range FN-303, a rifle-style weapon, uses compressed air to shoot “kinetic impact” projectiles, similar to rubber bullets, which are meant to incapacitate people without killing them. The sting-ball grenade is a hand-thrown grenade that sets off a flash and a loud bang, exploding several hundred small rubber balls, quickly clearing an area.

Obama was responsible for a lot of “chemical weapons attacks,” apparently, now all conveniently forgotten. But we’re used to this by now: Trump’s policy of holding immigrant children in “cages” was an atrocity until liberals were reminded that the same type of enclosures were used to detain unaccompanied immigrant minors during Obama’s presidency. “What was acceptable five minutes ago is intolerable today” is a precept found all over American policy debates, not just immigration. It’s the governing principle of arguments over spending levels, for instance. If you think it’s stark in this case, wait until Trump inadvertently drones an American citizen abroad. Imagine Schatz’s surprise when he learns that that’s sadly not unprecedented either.

Although he didn’t say so on Twitter, Schatz does have a solution to yesterday’s problem. Simply let them all in, just as hundreds of Americans protesting at the border yesterday insisted. Trump can scarcely get through a sentence without ridiculous hyperbole of some kind, but when he calls Democrats a party that believes in open borders he’s not exaggerating, especially vis-a-vis progressives like Schatz. Serious question: Would Schatz have expressed such indignation if American citizens protesting something somewhere inside the U.S. had been tear-gassed by local police? It’s been known to happen, yet his outrage seems magnified when it’s not his fellow citizens who are being targeted. A lot of Trump’s, and nationalism’s, appeal to righties lies in that strange double standard. Schatz is a perfect specimen of his ideological strain, so theatrically “serious” about solving a problem that he ends up unserious to everyone but those who already agree with him.

One last point:

If tear gas and other crowd-control measures are no-go for Schatz whenever migrants use small children to try to force their way past a border checkpoint, what incentives does that create? Assuming hypothetically that we elect a Democrat in 2020 who decides there should be some limit to the number of migrants the U.S. accepts, what enforcement measures to deter brute-force attempts to enter the country will be acceptable and not war crimes?

Update: Brandon Darby notes this report:

A group of about 100 people trying to illegally cross the border Sunday near the San Ysidro port of entry threw rocks and bottles at U.S. Border Patrol agents, who responded by using pepper spray and other means to force the crowd back into Mexico, federal officials said…

Immigrant-rights groups in San Diego said they didn’t know beforehand about the plan to rush the border, and they worry that desperation is driving homeless deportees to make a bold bid to rejoin their families in the United States.

That’s not from yesterday. It’s from November 25, 2013, five years to the day.

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