No criminal charges will be filed against the 42 migrants arrested during a weekend clash that culminated in U.S border agents firing tear gas into Mexico, according to a United States official.
The incident unfolded Sunday at the border between the United States and Tijuana, where thousands of caravan members, many of them asylum-seekers fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, have camped out in recent weeks. On an average day, the U.S government processes around 100 such cases, leaving many migrants waiting for months.
Frustrated by the slow-moving application process, scores of migrants marched to border over the weekend, calling on the United States to move things along. The demonstration quickly descended into chaos, with hundreds of migrants rushing past Mexican authorities and toward the border.
Several border agents were struck with rocks and other projectiles, prompting authorities to use tear gas against the migrants. The move was condemned by activists and many politicians, though President Trump has defended officers’ response.
“Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless the come in legally,” Trump said, adding that they used a “very minor form” of tear gas, which is also “very safe.”
The weekend arrests included 27 men, with the rest being women and children.
Customs and Border Protection referred only two cases to the Justice Department, though charges were not filed as the suspects had medical problems that prevented them from being held in the Sand Diego detention center, a United States official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press.
While they won’t face any criminal charges, the fates of the arrested migrants remain unclear. Customs and Border spokesman Ralph DeSio said many of them could still be subject to deportation.
“Depending on their country of citizenship and their case’s final disposition, the Border patrol may turn those people over to Immigration and Customs enforcement,” DeSio said.
With News Wire Services