The same tear-gas agent that the Trump administration is taking heat for deploying against a border mob this weekend is actually used fairly frequently — including more than once a month during the later years of President Barack Obama’s administration, according to Homeland Security data.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has used 2-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, or CS, since 2010, and deployed it 26 times in fiscal 2012 and 27 times in 2013. The use dropped after that, but was still deployed three times in 2016, Mr. Obama’s final full year in office.
Use of CS rose again in fiscal 2017, which was split between Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump, and reached 29 deployments in fiscal 2018, which ended two months ago, according to CBP data seen by The Washington Times.
Border authorities also use another agent, pepper spray, frequently — including a decade-high record of 151 instances in 2013, also under Mr. Obama. Pepper spray, officially known as Pava Capsaicin, was used 43 times in fiscal year 2018, according to the CBP numbers.
The data poses a challenge to the current anger over the Border Patrol’s use of tear gas Sunday to prevent a mob from busting through sections of old border fence in California.
Critics, including Latin American leaders, immigrant-rights advocates and congressional Democrats, have said use of tear gas is “un-American.”
“It’s horrifying to see tear gas used on mothers and young children as they seek refuge in the United States. That’s not what America should be,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat.
Other Democrats complained about threats of “deadly force” against the border incursions, which saw migrants punch through fencing, and launch rocks and bottles at agents who responded to stem the intrusion.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, took umbrage at the outrage, questioning where the critics were when tear gas was deployed under Mr. Obama.
“This policy that we use was an Obama-written policy and it was used in 2013 at the same port of entry,” he told CNN, wondering in particular about the intense media interest now versus then.
“The facts are, the policy written under President Obama allows us to use tear gas to disperse a crowd that was very dangerous,” he told the network.
Host Erin Burnett scoffed at Mr. Judd’s facts, saying the agents were using tear gas against women and children this weekend.
“The tear gas was not deployed at the children,” Mr. Judd countered, saying migrants were attempting to use them as human shields.
Some 9,000 members of the migrant caravans are camped in Baja California along the U.S.-Mexico border, plotting their attempts to enter the U.S., according to Mexican press accounts.
Mexican authorities have said 500 migrants were involved in the attempts to storm the border. Some U.S. officials have put the number higher.
Mexico said it has deported 98 caravan members it has identified as part of the violence and chaos.