US agents fire pepper ammunition at migrants

EL PASO, Texas, USA (HPD) — U.S. Border Patrol agents fired pepper spray bullets at a group of migrants who crossed the border from Mexico in the El Paso area after a person He threw a rock at one officer and another officer was attacked with a flagpole, the agency reported Tuesday.

Video captured Monday by the El Paso Times shows border agents approaching the group — which included a man with a Venezuelan flag — who had crossed the Rio Grande or Rio Grande.

Border Patrol spokesman Landon Hutchens said in a statement that when the group of Venezuelan migrants was protesting at the river, they tried to enter the United States illegally.

“One of the protesters attacked an officer with a flagpole,” Hutchens said. “A second subject threw a rock, injuring an officer, at which point officers responded with crowd control measures.”

Those measures included firing pepper spray bullets, which are “less lethal,” he said. Said ammunition releases a substance that irritates the eyes, nose and throat.

He added that the crowd dispersed and returned to Mexico. Hutchens did not provide details of the officer’s injuries.

Before Monday’s clash, a group of migrants had staged a march in Ciudad Juárez, which borders El Paso, to demand an opportunity to cross the border, the newspaper said.

Under a new Joe Biden administration policy that went into effect last month, Venezuelans who walk or swim across the border will be immediately returned to Mexico.

The Biden administration has agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at U.S. airports, while Mexico has agreed to accept back Venezuelans who enter the United States illegally by land.

Roberto Velasco, director for North America at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted Monday that the Mexican government had requested information from the United States about the confrontation.

Jonathan Blazer, director of border strategies at the American Civil Liberties Union, called the video of the incident “extremely alarming.”

“People seeking asylum on US soil should be screened for protection, not turned away, especially with the use of force,” Blazer said.

According to Customs and Border Protection statistics, its agents used “less-lethal” force — such as clubs, stun guns and pepper spray — 338 times in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Hutchens said that CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility will review Monday’s incident.

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