Tear Gas
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen released a statement providing updates on the Caravan, in an attempt to dispel rumors and misinformation. In this photo, Central American migrants run along the Tijuana River near the El Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, near US-Mexico border, after the U.S. border patrol threw tear gas from the distance to disperse them after an alleged verbal dispute, Nov. 25, 2018. Getty Images/ Guillermo Arias

After images of terrified immigrant children running away from tear gas deployed by armed forces at the San Ysidro Port of Entry – the largest land border crossing between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico – emerged Sunday, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen released a statement providing update on the situation, in an attempt to dispel rumors and misinformation.

In an extensive statement posted on the Facebook page of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday, Nielsen defended President Donald Trump’s decision to send troops to the border to prevent the caravan of immigrants from entering the country.

She called the violence reported at the border “entirely predictable” given that the present “caravan, unlike previous caravans, had already entered #Mexico violently and attacked border police in two other countries,” decrying the excuse of self-defense as an acceptable form of explanation for attacking “law enforcement with rocks and projectiles.”

Most of the “8,500 caravan members in Tijuana and Mexicali” did not qualify for lawful asylum in the U.S.," the statement added. “Historically, less than 10% of those who claim asylum from #Guatemala, #Honduras, and #ElSalvador are found eligible by a federal judge. 90% are not eligible."

Nielsen also pointed out that immigrant population attempting to cross the border was made up of predominantly male members and that the organizers had included a limited number of women and children as a form of “human shields” while coming face-to-face with the security forces.

The secretary’s remarks were echoed by the POTUS during a press conference on his bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, at Biloxi, Mississippi, on Monday.

"I do say – why are they there? First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself – it's very safe, the ones that were suffering to a certain extent were the people that were putting it out there. But you really say, why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming, and it's going to be formed, and they're running up with a child?” Trump said, Fox News reported.

After raising the question, the president proceeded to try and answer it himself. "In some cases, you know, they're not the parents. These are people, they call them 'grabbers' – they grab the child, because they think they're gonna have a certain status by having a child. You know, you have certain advantages and things with our crazy laws that frankly Congress should be changing. You know, if you change the laws, you wouldn't have this problem,” he said.

Further elaborating on the term “grabbers,” Trump explained how certain illegal immigrants would “grab a child, because when they have a child, they feel a lot safer” as it played in their favor when it came to gaining sympathy with the authorities.

“When you know there's going to be potential violence, you know there's going to be tear gas or something -- you don't take your child and bring them there. I can say that all over the border, you have a lot of grabbers, you have a lot of people who grab children, and they have no idea who these children are. They're not parents. They have no idea. And frankly to release the children to these people is a disaster,” he added.

Nielsen, in her statement, said there was no way to confirm the identities and backgrounds of the immigrants trying to cross the border and hence, impossible to determine if any of them were related by blood. The DHS had, however, found out that over 600 of them were convicted criminals.

The Customs and Border Protection also released the following statement regarding the situation at U.S.-Mexico border: