Department Of Homeland Security Says Women & Children In Migrant Caravan Were ‘Human Shields’ In Border Clash

Members of the Central American migrant caravan move to the next town at dawn on November 02, 2018 in Matias Romero, Mexico. The group of migrants, many of them fleeing violence in their home countries, last took a rest day on Wednesday and has resumed their journey towards the United States border. As fatigue from the heat, distance and poor sanitary conditions has set in, the numbers of people participating in the trek has slowly dwindled but a significant group are still determined to get to the United States. President Donald Trump said Wednesday as many as 15,000 troops may be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to prevent members of the migrant caravan from illegally entering the country.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security released a statement by Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday night standing by its decision to employ the use of tear gas against the migrant caravan that attempted to enter the country through its southern border, according to a report by the Washington Post.

In a statement posted on the Facebook page of the DHS, Nielsen referred to the violence that appeared at the San Ysidro border crossing as “entirely predictable,” adding that the Central American migrants with the goal of claiming asylum in the United States had begun to throw rocks at law enforcement after becoming frustrated over their inability to plead their case.

While no law enforcement officials were injured by thrown rocks, Nielsen wrote about the potential that “officers can be seriously or fatally injured in such attacks.” This explanation mirrors the reasoning given by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, who said in a tweet that the migrants had thrown projectiles and the use of tear gas was only employed in an effort to “dispel the group.”

A large amount of the outrage surrounding the use of tear gas on the southern border is related to the images that have appeared of women and children who had been affected by the chemical, particularly among prominent Democrats, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez, tweeted, “Shooting tear gas at children is not who we are as Americans. Seeking asylum is not a crime. We must be better than this.”

Gavin Newsome, the Democratic governor-elect of California, tweeted, “These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas. Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America. We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom. And we will not stand for this.”

If the caravan had made it through the San Ysidro border crossing, it would have entered the Californian city of San Diego. Nielsen and the Department of Homeland Security had a different perspective on the situation, writing in the statement, “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.”

The statement by Nielsen and the DHS ended with a thanking of law enforcement officials on the border and a promise “to prepare for the next assault.” The migrant caravan remains in Mexico.