Migrant Mother Who Fled US Border With Children Never Expected Tear Gas To Be Used On Kids

U.S. Border Patrol agents stand watch on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border fence.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

“It wasn’t right, they know we are human beings, the same as them,” Maria Meza, migrant mother photographed running with her children from tear gas at the Mexico-U.S. border recounts for Reuters. “I was scared, and I thought I was going to die with them because of the gas.” Maria, she adds, never expected the United States Border Patrol to fire gas canisters at children, but they have.

A photo showing Maria running from the gas with her three daughters — 13-year-old Jamie and 5-year-old twins Saira and Cheili — has since gone viral, sparking widespread outrage, but not a lot has changed for Maria and her family.

“I came here for one reason, and that’s because there is a lot of violence in Honduras,” she explains.

But President Donald Trump, adamant to maintain his hardline immigration policy has vowed to close the border down. For Maria and her family, she says, that would almost mean a death sentence.

“If they close the border I ask God that here in Tijuana, or in another country they open doors to us, to allow me to survive with my children,” Maria tells Reuters. But as the Washington Post reports, President Donald Trump is deaf to public and lawmaker pressure and continues to insist on funding for his border wall. Trump is demanding $5 billion to construct the wall and threatening government shutdown if Congress dares ignore the request. In a November 26 Twitter post, Trump threatened to close the Southern border down “permanently,” urging Congress to approve funding for the wall, calling on Mexican authorities to force the migrants — “many of whom are stone-cold criminals,” he claims — back to their countries.

Maria, like thousands of others, is fleeing Honduras, a country plagued with violence. According to the Association for a More Just Society, a Christian charity organization focused on Honduras, 80 percent of homicide cases in the impoverished country are never investigated. Likely to go unpunished, violence and crime in Honduras are enabled by the country’s corrupt government.

“People are fleeing from the misery and horrors for which we are responsible,” world-renowned linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky recently opined, as reported by the Inquisitr, referring to U.S. intervention which has reportedly turned Honduras into a country many are desperate to flee.

As the Guardian points out, the United States backed a coup that overthrew a democratically-elected president and then proceeded to back the return of Honduras’ death squad government. “America’s great foreign policy disgrace” is how the publication described the impoverished country, which migrants like Maria Meza are forced to flee, seeking a better life for themselves and their families. According to the U.S. Border Patrol, however, people like Maria are “economic migrants.”

But once they leave, and once they reach the Mexico-U.S. border, they’re reportedly tear-gassed. Maria, she says, never thought the United States Border Patrol would tear-gas children, but they supposedly have. Along with 5,200 other migrants who traveled in a caravan across Mexico, she is now forced to live in makeshift tents in the Mexican city of Tijuana. If Mexican authorities do what Trump is pressuring them to do, Maria and her children will be sent back to Honduras.