The Migrant Caravan: Tensions and Tear Gas

The Migrant Caravan: Tensions and Tear Gas

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On Sunday a confrontation erupted between hundreds of migrants and the US Border control. In Tijuana, the migrants were aiming to cross the barriers separating Mexico from the US, to claim asylum in the US. The US Customs and Border Protection police the border. They argue that their staff had been assaulted and hit by stones launched by migrants, to which the US government have said that the use tear gas was out of self-defence. Vulnerable women and children struggled to protect themselves against the tear gas fired by the authorities.

Many activists and some politicians have questioned the morality of the authorities use of tear gas. The authorities have faced many condemnations for their actions and response. In addition, the need for the riot control agents to use of tear gas has become a controversial issue.

Trump has stated that “the gas used was "very safe" and was a "very minor form" of tear gas”. Rob Colburn, the president of the Border Patrol Foundation, played down the tear-gassing of asylum seekers and migrants by US Border Patrol agents “To clarify, the type of deterrent being used is OC pepper spray. It’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes. It’s natural — you could actually put it on your nachos and eat it”. Also, the view has been present since 2011, as the then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly went on then-host Bill O’Reilly’s show and characterised pepper spray as “like a derivative of actual pepper. It’s a food product, essentially.”

Claims that Tear Gas is safe to have been disputed by various medical associations.

The Centers for Disease Control stated that tear gas can cause blurred vision, burning and swelling in the nose, coughing, choking, shortness of breath and skin burns, in addition to other side effects. Sven Eric Jordt, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Duke University “discovered that the chemical causes pain by activating pain receptors," and that he “would consider them to be nerve agents that selectively and very potently engage pain nerves." He has emphasised the impact of tear gas on children as “It is present in higher concentrations closer to the ground, and children, being shorter, are exposed to higher concentrations. Also, since their lungs are smaller, when they inhale tear gas the potential for injury is higher.” The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement critical of response to tear gas being used A child's smaller size, more frequent number of breaths per minute and limited cardiovascular stress response compared to adults magnifies the harm of agents such as tear gas.”

The legality of the response of using Tear Gas has been questioned

The Geneva Convention a source of International law has declared tear gas to be a form of chemical warfare, and it is banned in such conflicts. The US’s violation of international law has made the US government’s response appear more hostile and aggressive. Tear gas is illegal for international use, but not for use in domestic law enforcement. Local police departments in the US, frequently use it to disperse crowds engaging in unlawful activity. However, this isn’t domestic law enforcement: the tear gas canisters crossed an international border with the aim of preventing people from being able to step onto US soil. Once the migrants have entered the US, the US would be obligated to hear their asylum claims without turning them back under current law.

It is important to regard Trump’s actions as part of a broader approach to undermine the rule of law and an immigration policy that targets children.

Children are disproportionately affected by the US’s immigration policies in recent years.

There have been attempts by Trump to end the “Dreamers” program which began under former president Barack Obama that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.

Thousands of children came to the US as refugees fleeing violence in their home countries — only to be told by governors in several states they were unwelcome.

The Trump administration's policy of separating migrant parents from their children made matters worse since as many as 5,000 children were removed from their parents' care.

Making these circumstances graver, since this is a proposal to revoke the right to citizenship for children who were born in America but whose parents weren't.

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