- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2018

President Trump on Monday defended border officials for using tear gas against migrants who tried to storm the U.S. border, even as Mexico announced it has deported nearly 100 of the caravan members it says were involved in the chaos.

Some members of the migrant caravan are having second thoughts about their involvement, The Associated Press reported from Tijuana, saying they’re disheartened and fear they may have squandered their chances to claim asylum after being part of the weekend’s violence.

But for now, perhaps 9,000 migrants remain on the border in Baja California, plotting their next steps after several days of clashes, arrests and U.S. officials’ use of tear gas to combat border breaches.

The president of Honduras, whose fleeing citizens make up a majority of the caravans, called the U.S. moves “very hostile.”

But Mr. Trump said Border Patrol agents did what they needed to prevent the boundary from being overrun.

“They had to use [it] because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas,” the president told reporters at the White House. “Here’s the bottom line — nobody’s coming in to our country unless they come in legally.”

Earlier, on Twitter, the president had warned he would consider closing the border, “permanently if need be.”

He again pressured Congress to pony up billions of dollars to complete his border wall plan, and he urged Mexico to deport the migrants, “many of whom are stone cold criminals.”

Mexico’s migration bureau said 98 caravan members were deported after they were deemed to be part of perhaps 500 migrants in the border assault.

Footage from Sunday showed migrants powering past Mexican police who had been deployed to keep them from reaching the border. The migrants then sought out weak spots, tearing down sections of old border fence and breaking through.

The Border Patrol responded with tear gas, pushing the migrants back through holes they had torn in the fence.

Some migrants were seen throwing rocks and bottles at the agents on the other side of the fence.

U.S. authorities arrested dozens of people who did breach the border.

In Washington, top Democrats blamed Mr. Trump for the situation.

“The Trump administration’s immigration agenda is clearly intended to foment chaos at the border,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat in line to become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee next year.

He vowed congressional investigations.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who is in line to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of the chamber in January, also blamed Mr. Trump for “chaos at the border.”

He called for Congress to debate a broad overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, which Mr. Trump also has said he would welcome, though it’s not clear there’s any common ground on what the two sides would like to see.

Immigrant rights activists say caravan members would prefer to claim asylum but have resorted to trying to break through the border because of the slow pace of U.S. processing.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez called the U.S. response “very hostile” and complained in particular about rubber bullets that he said were used on citizens of his country.

Mr. Orlando Hernandez’s brother was arrested in Florida last week by U.S. authorities, who accused him of being part of a massive cocaine-trafficking operation, including arranging “machine gun-toting security” to guard shipments, taking bribes from drug cartels and paying his own bribes to grease the skids for his operation.

Prosecutors said cocaine labs in Honduras and Colombia even stamped cocaine with the symbol “TH,” for Tony Hernandez, the president’s brother and a former Honduran congressman himself.

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