The new year started with a bang down on the Mexican-American border near Tijuana. Unfortunately, the “bang” in question was the detonation of a tear gas canister, followed by several others as migrants from the Honduran caravan once again attempted to breach the border. This was just the latest incident of caravan members being unwilling to wait while their claims are being processed and taking matters into their own hands by attempting to overwhelm law enforcement at these locations. Most of them were pushed back yet again, but this is one more indication that 2019 isn’t bringing in a surge of law and order on the border. (Washington Times)

U.S. authorities fired tear gas into Mexico during the first hours of the new year to repel about 150 migrants who were trying to breach the border fence in Tijuana.

An Associated Press photographer witnessed at least three volleys of gas launched onto the Mexican side of the border near Tijuana’s beach early Tuesday. It affected the migrants, including women and children, as well as members of the press.

Migrants who spoke with AP said they arrived last month with the caravan from Honduras.

CBP reported that there were children being brought over the border where immigration officials were waiting to process them, but more than 100 migrants began charging the border with some throwing rocks at the agents. The tear gas canisters were deployed in response to the violence.

This plays well in the press for critics of current immigration policy, but such claims are short-sighted and oblivious to both history and reality. Keep in mind that it’s already been well established that immigration agents have deployed both tear gas and pepper spray in cases like this for years, including frequent use of these “chemical weapons” during the Obama administration. At the time you didn’t hear a peep out of the media or the Democrats about it.

Beyond that, I’ve yet to hear any suggestions as to what should be done as an alternative. When a menacing crowd demonstrates that they’re willing to rush the border right in the face of law enforcement and resort to violence (even if it’s “only” throwing rocks), what are the agents supposed to do in response? There’s a limited number of CBP officers in any given area and the caravan has shown that they can muster hundreds of people willing to attempt to breach the border at a single point.

Law enforcement in the United States has been using tear gas and pepper spray on our own citizens for ages when crowds turn into mobs and get out of control. It’s happened during G-20 protests when anarchists show up and try to burn down the city. It’s happened when a “march” turns into a riot and protesters attack the cops. But now it’s suddenly chemical warfare if the CPB resorts to these non-lethal weapons to enforce the law and secure the border? The only other alternative would be to simply throw open the borders entirely. (An idea which I’m sure wouldn’t be terribly upsetting to some of the reporters covering this mess.)

The politicization of these skirmishes at the border has turned this into more of a media messaging war than a policy debate. And the people paying the price for it are the ones on the front lines… on both sides of the border.