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Trump backs use of tear gas on crowd of migrants

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By Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Donald Trump is strongly defending the U.S. use of tear gas at the Mexico border to repel a crowd of migrants that included angry rock-throwers and barefoot, crying children.

Critics denounced the action by border agents as overkill, but Trump kept to a hard line.

“They were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas,” Trump said Monday of the previous day’s encounter. “Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally.”

At a roundtable in Mississippi later Monday, Trump seemed to acknowledge that children were affected.

“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 were running up with a child?” the president asked.

He said it was “a very minor form of the tear gas itself” that he was assured was “very safe.”

Without offering evidence, Trump claimed some of the women in Sunday’s confrontation are not parents but are instead “grabbers” who steal children so they have a better chance of being granted asylum in the U.S.

On Tuesday, U.S. authorities lowered the number of arrests during the confrontation to 42 from 69. Rodney Scott, chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector, said the initial count included some arrests in Mexico by Mexican authorities who reported 39 arrests.

Scott also defended the agents’ decisions to fire tear gas into Mexico, saying they were being assaulted by “a hail of rocks.”