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Trump administration: tear-gassed women and children were ‘human shields’

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mexico migrants tear gas
A
migrant family, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from
Central America en route to the United States, run away from tear
gas in front of the border wall between the U.S and Mexico in
Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018.


Kim
Kyung-Hoon/Reuters



  • The Trump administration floated unsubstantiated claims about
    a group of migrants who stormed a US port of entry to defend the
    use of tear gas on a crowd that included women and children.
  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen
    Nielsen speculated that women and children were a convenient
    tool for the predominantly male caravan at which US officials
    launched tear gas.
  • Nielsen’s claim comes after President Donald Trump said
    there were “grabbers” among the migrants who picked up random
    children as they approached the border to better their chances
    of entering the US.
  • The baseless claims are the latest defense from US
    officials after the clash spurred widespread backlash as
    reports described women and children running from tear
    gas.

The Trump administration floated unsubstantiated claims about a
group of migrants who stormed a US port of entry to
defend the use of tear gas on a crowd that included women and
children.

In a lengthy statement released
late Monday night, Department of Homeland Security Secretary
Kirstjen Nielsen echoed President Donald Trump’s unverified claim
that the women and children seen running and screaming as US
authorities launched tear gas across a border wall were being
used as “human shields” by migrants.

Nielsen said that because the caravan was predominantly male,
women and children provided a convenient image for the group.

“It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and
children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as
‘human shields’ when they confront law enforcement,” she wrote on
Facebook. “They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers
as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting
vulnerable people in harm’s way.” Business Insider has reached
out to DHS and is awaiting a response.

The comment is similar to a remark made in October by
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said the caravan was
using women and children as shields
in a confrontation that resulted in the group forcing its way
into Mexico. 


Read more:
Mom pictured fleeing with her kids
from tear gas at the US border says she never thought Border
Patrol would use it on children

Nielsen also dismissed the events of the clash as “rumors” and
“misinformation,” despite widespread reports, photo, and
video
from the scene. 

Rodney Scott, chief of San Diego Border Patrol, also depicted the
caravan as a largely male group, announcing that of the 42 people
agents arrested after they crossed the border, eight were women.
Scott added there were “only a few” children involved.

Nielsen’s unverified speculation came soon after Trump said that he heard
some migrants grabbed random children as they approached the
border to increase their chances to enter the US.

“In some cases, you know, they’re not the parents,” Trump said at
a roundtable event in Biloxi, Mississippi. “These are people,
they call ’em ‘grabbers,’ they grab the child because they think
they’re gonna have a certain status by having a child. You know
you have certain advantages and things with our crazy laws that
frankly Congress should be changing.”

When asked for evidence and further explanation, Trump repeated
that there were “grabbers.”

Read more: 

Backlash erupts after the Trump
administration fires tear gas at migrants in clash at the
US-Mexico border

Before the demonstration, more than 5,600 migrants were being
held in Tijuana’s Benito Juarez Sports Complex, Mexico’s Social
Development Secretariat told CNN. Of those, an
official estimated there were 3,598 men, 1,041 women, and 993
children.

Reports of mothers and young children with burning eyes running
from the tear gas launched by US authorities sparked immediate reactions
from civil rights organizations and across social media.

The confrontation came after a migrant caravan group
estimated to be in the hundreds stormed the busiest port of entry
along the Mexico border Sunday in a planned demonstration.

Chaos broke out as migrants got close to the border agents in
riot gear and reportedly attempted to break through
barbed wire and metal sheeting.

Children screamed and coughed as clouds of gas spread out across
hundreds of yards, the Associated Press reported.

“We ran, but when you run the smoke asphyxiates you more,” Ana
Zuniga, a 23-year-old woman from Honduras, told the AP while
holding her 3-year-old daughter.

The hits against the caravan are the latest in the Trump
administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, which boiled over
earlier this year as Nielsen lead the charge on a zero-tolerance immigration policy
that resulted in thousands of migrant children
being separated from their parents. 

 
Multiple recent
reports

 have suggested that
Nielsen
 is next on
the list to be fired from the administration, which Trump
advanced earlier this month
when he admitted he was considering changes to “three or four or
five positions” in his Cabinet. 

Trump insisted that he likes and respects Nielsen, but wished she
handled the relationship between the US and Mexico differently,
which has been identified as a point of tension between the two.

“I like her very much I respect her very much,” Trump said. “I’d
like her to be much tougher on the border. Much tougher. Period.”

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