A war crime by any other name…

Griffin Perrault, Staff Writer

The United States used tear gas against children on Nov. 25. There are certainly more moderate, trimmed ways to deliver this fact, but any descriptor less potent would neglect the terrifying nature of our current situation.

Migrants in Tijuana, Mexico were met on Nov. 25 at the San Ysidro Land Porter Border of Entry by officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP). The agents, in response to attempts by several migrants to cross through the port of entry, made liberal use of tear gas on the offending foreigners, some of whom were as young as five years old. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the actions of CBP agents, calling the gassing “entirely predictable” and insisted that the children gassed at the border were being used as human shields against the dangerous chemicals utilized by the CBP.

The first encounter with the so-called ‘migrant caravan’ of some 7,000 asylum-seekers from Central America was accompanied by hateful rhetoric proliferated by the Trump administration over the past few weeks. This rhetoric was predicated on a number of unsubstantiated claims by President Donald Trump about “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” being “mixed in” with the impoverished population of the convoy, references to the caravan as an “invasion,” and misleading statements lamenting on the “massive foreign aid” provided by the United States to several Central American countries whose citizens make up the caravan. In addition, he implied that migrants with children may have been “grabbers,” who he described as “grab[bing] child[ren] because they think they’ll have a certain status by having a child.” It is extremely difficult to separate the openly hateful, authoritarian oratory by Trump and his staff from the rising violence seen at the border.

This border engagement promises to be only the first of many. On Oct. 26, Trump announced the deployment of 800 troops south to aid the CBP in “security efforts,” intending to meet the full caravan as it continues northward towards the States. The “border support” operation, once called Operation Faithful Patriot, includes several thousand armed combat troops tasked with helping the United States Border Patrol to block illegal crossings by members of the caravan. It is not clear in exactly what capacity the military will be preventing border crossings, but it is likely that significant violence or worse can be expected quite soon. This senseless violence will continue as long as the Trump administration maintains its popular legitimacy. Once again, as the country finds itself at the doorstep of fascism, it is imperative that we look inward and decide if this is the future we truly want for ourselves.

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